Stolen guns

One Border Patrol agent was found guilty after being accused of shipping stolen gun parts to another agent.

U.S. District Court

A federal jury found a Border Patrol agent guilty Tuesday of stealing $100,000 in gun parts and equipment from the agency.

Agent Jesus Manuel Franco was found guilty of one count of theft of government property and two counts of unlawful possession and transfer of a machine gun. He was acquitted on one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government property and 13 counts of mail fraud, documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson show.

Agent Edgardo Jose Munoz Cruz was acquitted of all charges, including one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government property; one count of theft of government property; and 13 counts of mail fraud.

Franco faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines for each of the three counts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Franco, a former firearms instructor at the Border Patrol’s Willcox Station, and Munoz were accused of conspiring to steal scopes, gun barrels, magazines and other equipment that Franco mailed in late 2014 and January 2015 from the agency’s armory in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, to Munoz at the Willcox Station.

The alleged conspiracy was discovered when a box with a gun barrel poking out arrived at the Willcox Station. Dozens of boxes of gun parts were later found in Munoz’s garage in Vail, according to court documents.

The agents’ defense lawyers argued their clients were trying to help their fellow agents during a gun shortage at the Willcox Station. Prosecutors said the agents concealed the shipments, which were for their own personal gain.

A federal grand jury indicted the agents in February 2016 on the theft, conspiracy and mail fraud charges. Franco also faced two counts of possession and transfer of a machine gun in connection with mailing conversion devices that could be attached to firearms.

Contact reporter Curt Prendergast at cprendergast@tucson.com or 573-4224. On Twitter: @CurtTucsonStar