Federal Project Guardian operation targeting gun violence brings indictments in Waco

Local News

A federal grand jury has returned a number of indictments across Texas against defendants for various firearms offenses under ” Project Guardian” with two involving local domestic violence cases.

In the first indictment, 43-year-old Luis Emetrio Gonzalez of Belton faces up to ten years in federal prison upon conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Belton police officers responding to a family disturbance call on February 8, 2020, discovered Gonzalez in possession of an AR-15 rifle and a .380 caliber pistol.

The criminal history for Gonzalez reveals three prior felony convictions for drug possession and burglary of a building dating back to 2007.

In the second indictment, 37-year-old Robert Lewis Stephens, Jr. of Waco faces up to ten years in federal prison upon conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

On May 9, 2020, Waco Police officers responding to a domestic-violence-with-a-gun call, found Stephens in possession a 9mm semiautomatic pistol.

The criminal history of Stephens reveals a 2009 conviction in McLennan County for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and two felony cocaine possession convictions in McLennan County—one in 2001 and one in 2009.

These cases are among approximately 350 pending illegal possession of firearms cases in the Western District of Texas.

“Firearms in the hands of dangerous felons, domestic abusers and others who are prohibited from possessing them present a real danger to the law abiding members of our communities. If you are convicted of federal firearms offenses, you can expect to face serious prison time. This Office remains committed to aggressively enforcing federal firearms laws and bringing to justice those who would illegally purchase, traffic, transfer, possess or use these weapons,” stated U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer.

These cases are part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and, ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to communities.

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