Crime

Man without visa admits firearm violation

Leobardo Morales-Gonzalez
Leobardo Morales-Gonzalez

GULFPORT -- A Hispanic man has admitted he was in the U.S. without permission when he was found with a stolen semi-automatic handgun in a traffic stop in Biloxi.

Leobardo "Leo" Morales-Gonzalez, 41, pleaded guilty Friday to transport of a firearm by a person unlawfully in the United States, federal court records show.

The gun, a 9mm Ruger, had been reported stolen in Gautier.

Morales-Gonzalez faces up to 10 years in prison and removal from the U.S. He also has agreed to give up the gun.

U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden will sentence him June 28.

Morales-Gonzalez was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over about 12:56 a.m. Sept. 9.

Two officers with the state Department of Marine Resources had seen the eastbound vehicle travelling in a reckless manner on Bayview Avenue, a court filing said. The vehicle was travelling in the middle of the road and at one point was in the westbound lane. Officers performed a traffic stop on Bayview near Dacey Street.

The driver and Morales-Gonzalez, who was using the name Leo Morales, began acting as if they were trying to hide something and the driver tried to drive off, but one officer pulled out his service weapon and the driver put up his hands, a document said.

The officers reported they found a handgun under the front passenger seat.

Morales-Gonzalez told them he had bought it 1- 1/2 years earlier from a co-worker, a document said.

The gun was listed as stolen on the National Crime Information Center database.

Morales-Gonzalez has been held with no bond for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A federal grand jury indicted him on the immigration and firearm charge Dec. 8.

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