Medina County man accused of selling guns illegally facing federal charges

Feds: Guns bought by Casmiro Tapia in Texas, recovered at crime scene in Mexico

SAN ANTONIO – A Medina County man is facing federal charges after being caught up in a sting conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Casmiro Barba Tapia, 46, is accused of buying dozens of guns at Texas gun shows and then reselling them.

Tapia, who's currently out on bond, refused to answer questions about the charges he's facing when the Defenders went to his home in Natalia.

According to a criminal complaint filed in August, Tapia is accused of making false statements during the purchase of a firearm and engaging in the firearms business without a license.

Tapia became the focus of an ATF investigation in May after Mexican law enforcement officers recovered five semiautomatic pistols at a crime scene in Guadalajara.

The guns were traced back to Tapia who allegedly bought them from a federal firearms licensee in Texas on April 13, just 17 days before they were recovered in Mexico.

The complaint alleges ATF agents identified dozens of guns purchased by Tapia from the same San Antonio area dealer and some of the guns were bought from that dealer at the monthly SAXET gun show.

Between April 3 and June 15, Tapia allegedly bought 50 handguns from the dealer.

Investigators working the case tracked Tapia's border crossings, which revealed a pattern. The complaint states Tapia crossed into the U.S. through the Laredo Port of Entry on April 11. Two days later, he bought 12 guns at a gun show. Then on April 14, he crossed back into Mexico at the same Laredo border crossing. Seventeen days later, five of the guns Tapia is alleged to have bought were found at the Guadalajara crime scene.

Agents were watching Tapia on Aug. 9 when he took possession of several guns in a San Antonio parking lot on the West Side. Tapia was arrested and agents recovered 16 guns from his vehicle.

During an interview with investigators, Tapia allegedly told agents he bought at least 50 guns this year and had sold half of them. He said he typically made a profit of $50 to $70 per gun.

In the criminal complaint, agents documented Tapia buying 52 guns between January and August this year. Of those guns, five were recovered in Mexico, while three were found inside his home. The remaining 43 guns are still unaccounted for.

KSAT reached out to Rep. Henry Cuellar about the case and the allegations that Tapia was transporting and selling guns to Mexico.

Cuellar released the following statement:

"Many of the weapons that wind up in the hands of transnational criminal organizations were bought legally in the U.S. and then smuggled over the border.  United States law enforcement and our international partners are cooperating to stop the illegal trafficking of firearms across our borders. I am continuing to bring awareness to this issue and call for the hiring of additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel to increase enforcement. I believe Congress needs to have a serious and bipartisan discussion about firearms in our country and finding a balance that keeps our nation safe without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of our citizens."

As a condition of his bond, Tapia is on GPS monitoring and his travel is restricted to Bexar County and the surrounding seven counties. He has until mid-January to enter into a plea agreement. If no agreement is reached, his trial is scheduled for Jan. 29.

About the Author: