New Mexico Officials to Be Arraigned in Gun Smuggling Case

By Staff | March 15, 2011 | 6:53 AM EDT

Las Cruces, New Mexico (AP) - Three top officials from a small border town in New Mexico are scheduled to be arraigned in federal court along with seven other defendants charged in a scheme in which they're accused of illegally buying guns to smuggle into Mexico.

The defendants are accused of buying roughly 200 firearms over a 14-month period. They were arrested Thursday as law enforcement officers executed search warrants at the Columbus Police Department, a gun shop and eight homes.

Columbus Mayor Eddie Espinoza and town Trustee Blas Gutierrez are charged with gun smuggling, while police Chief Angelo Vega faces one charge of conspiracy to smuggle guns.

They are set to appear in court Tuesday in Las Cruces.