The chief of police for a small New Mexico town who was arrested for allegedly aiding in a gun running operation covered up the fact that his co-defendants Manuel Ortega, Ignacio Villalobos and village Councilman Jose Blas Gutierrez “were drinking and partying with 9 or 10 young girls, some of whom were in high school,” federal prosecutors said in a recent court filing.
Angelo Vega — the police chief of Columbus, N.M. — warned alleged gunrunner Blas Gutierrez that having “two or three” high school girls over was “the dumbest fucking thing ever” in a phone call recorded on Feb. 15. Vega also received a call on Feb. 16 from the parents of one of the teenagers complaining of their child’s absence from school the next day, prompting him to again caution Guttierrez.
Vega is charged with making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearm, and was originally detained pending trial as a potential “flight risk” and “danger to the community.” On March 22, Vega appealed his pretrial detention, but U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales reiterated that he considers Vega a “liability to flee,” submitting a litany of text message and communications evidence in a response, and stating, among other things, that the defendant lied to federal agents in order to attain weapons, combat gear and body armor destined for Mexico.
Eleven people, including the chief of police and the mayor, were indicted by the feds earlier this month. The bust came as a part of the ATF’s increasingly criticized “gunrunner” program.
In one of the recently released text exchanges, Vega and Gutierrez discuss the selling price of body armor and how quickly Vega can get 4 “level 7” bullet-proof vests:
Gutierrez: Need 4 level 7 brother how soon can you get them…
Gutierrez: What price should I give them
Gutierrez: 2500 Thats what I am going to tell them so when can you get them
Gutierrez: The sooner you get them the sooner we get the cash
Gutierrez: When can you get them!
Vega: Tomorrow why
Vega also allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars from co-defendants in the gun smuggling ring in exchange for his “protection services.” A text shows Vega and Gutierrez jokingly arguing about the exorbitant sums of money Vega gets for this “protection.”
Gutierrez: so with this 5 k your getting i am paid up till when
Vega: Next friday sweety! …
Gutierrez: More like next month
Vega: Omg! Ur gettin cold feet wit me buddy! …
Gutierrez: Do You how much you have gotten sence the 1st of jan ass hole
Vega: How much my love?
Gutierrez: Over 20,000 you should feel ashamed of your self
Vega: Well I do!! And I am! What do u want to do shoot me, then what!
Gutierrez: Like i said a month brother
Vega: Ok ok ok ok Shit you make me feel awful!
On Monday, Vega’s appeal to be released was officially denied by the court which agreed with prosecutors that he is a flight risk and danger to the community and should be kept in custody pending trial.