By Kathi Bliss
A suspected gunrunner was arrested in rural Caldwell County on Friday after cops seized a makeshift arsenal, including weapons and body armor, drugs and other paraphernalia from his Uhland-area home.
What began as a Child Protective Services (CPS) welfare check soon turned into much more.
According to Sheriff Daniel C. Law, deputies accompanied a CPS caseworker to the Everett Drive residence on Friday afternoon after receiving a telephone tip expressing concerns about minor children in the residence. When they arrived, officers spotted what they believed to be an AR-15 rifle with a 100-round magazine in the residence.
Because the suspect, later identified as 39-year-old Marcelino Aguirre, was known to officers to be a convicted felon, the officers secured a search warrant for the residence. The search turned up more than the officers had bargained for.
While executing the warrant with the assistance of the Hays County Sheriff’s Department, the Lockhart Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office seized what they initially estimated to be around 80 guns, a high-tech surveillance system, several vehicles and 1.8 ounces of methamphetamine. Additionally, they found residue of heroin and marijuana in a variety of baggies throughout the residence, suggesting that drug trafficking activity may be taking place in the home, as well.
In addition, cops seized more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition, several magazines for automatic weapons, a number of police- and military-grade bulletproof vests, and other evidence – some of which suggests Aguirre might be tied to powerful Mexican drug cartels.
They also counted more than $45,919 in cash seized.
The residence, and Aguirre, had been the subject of a long-term, ongoing investigation by Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. During his interview with detectives after his arrest, Law’s office confirmed on Tuesday, Aguirre said he was once a Mexican Federal Police Officer (Federale).
Aguirre was charged with Unlawful Possession of Metal or Body Armor by a Felon, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, and Possession of a Controlled Substance (Penalty Group 1, 4 – 200 grams). Bond was set at $270, 000.
On Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, Federal charges were filed on Aguirre for Possession of Firearms and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon and Possession of Unregistered Title II (NFA) firearms. In preparation for those Federal charges, ATF agents took possession of most of the firearms and ammunition after Friday’s initial investigation.
Law’s office said on Tuesday that the investigation continues, and confirmed the investigation could pan out to include more seizures of weapons and narcotics, or future arrests of additional suspects. Anyone with information about Aguirre or his Everett Drive residence are encouraged to contact the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 398-6777.