ATF investigating former deputy for trafficking weapons to Mexico

ATF investigating former deputy for trafficking weapons to Mexico
Seized weapon parts in ATF investigation into former Lafourche parish sheriff deputy Jesus Frias-Lemus (Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - According to a federal search warrant, ATF agents seized a laundry list of firearms, ammunition, technology, and other items from a former Lafourche Parish Sheriff Deputy, Jesus Frias-Lemus’s home.

ATF agents believe he and his girlfriend Ana Huerta-Valdez were trafficking firearms across the Mexican border.

The warrant says Mexican law enforcement arrested Frias-Lemus last October for concealing two firearms, firearms parts, and ammunition in their car. It continues to say "it is common for firearm traffickers to disassemble firearms" to easily conceal while trafficking.

“When he contacted his commanding officer when he was first taken into custody in Mexico he informed them he left his duty weapon in the car,” said Lafourche Parish Sheriff, Craig Webre.

While sorting out his legal troubles in Mexico, Webre said they received another call from Frias-Lemus that Mexican authorities found no probable cause to hold him and he was released. But when he came back home, ATF notified them they intended to investigate further.

“They had information and photos they received from the Mexican authorities that supported Mr. Frias’ firearms was not the duty weapons and a potential attempt to conceal them,” said Webre.

Sheriff Webre said he understood Frias-Lemus’ family was from Mexico and would travel back and forth to the country on weekends and his days off, and even says his superiors described him as a hard working deputy.

“When he came back and he was interviewed by the internal affairs his responses were appropriate, if you go out of the country it’s not unreasonable around the holidays to make a trip and come back to work,” said Webre.

ATF investigators say three days prior to his arrest, Frius-Lemus tried to buy six guns from a Thibodaux sports store. An employee told him they legally couldn’t make that sale, so he went online and legally purchased two of the same guns.

ATF says the firearm parts recovered in Mexico match the guns purchased online.

But in December when ATF contacted the sheriff’s office wanting to search his home, Frius-Lemus refused and resigned December 19.

Webre says Frius-Lemus was a two year deputy of their department, and to his knowledge has not been arrested.

Webre says when Frius-Lemus called them when he was first arrested in Mexico, Mexican police wanted him to pay a bribe, but searched the car when he declined.

Webre also says it’s hard for them to know if the former deputy intended to traffic firearms, but says it’s unlikely the weapons Mexican police seized were duty weapons.

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