Father, son plead guilty to trying to smuggle guns to Mexico

A father and son have pleaded guilty of their part in trying to smuggle more than 50 firearms to Mexico.

Othon Marban, Sr., 56, and Othon Marban, Jr., 20, both of Gainesville, entered guilty pleas this month for conspiracy to transfer firearms to an out-of-state resident and making false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer..

"The defendants’ thwarted attempt to traffic guns to Mexico highlights the determination of our office and our law enforcement partners to stop the illegal gun trade both within and outside our district," said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. "I commend our federal, state and local law enforcement for remaining vigilant and protecting our communities."

The pair was pulled over by a Hall County deputy for traffic violations on Dec. 3, 2021 as they drove their pickup truck along Interstate 985 south. During a search of the vehicles, investigators said 51 guns were found wrapped in cellophane.

"Stopping the trafficking of illegal guns saves lives and reduces crime, I’m pleased that we were able to stop this scheme to illegally export guns to Mexico," said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. "Cases like this highlight the great results that can be achieved when agencies work together to protect our communities here and abroad."

Both admitted to deputies they were headed to Mexico. Investigators also found out the pair had previously purchased additional guns and made a trip south of the border earlier in 2021.

"This case is a perfect example of how our agencies work in concert to keep our communities safe," said Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch. "I applaud our deputies for being alert as they were patrolling I-985, which is the busiest primary corridor in our county. They saw a problem with a basic traffic violation and pulled over the offender. As a result, we were able to get dozens of illegal weapons off our streets. I’m proud of everyone involved."

Othon Marban, Sr. entered his plea on May 9 and Othon Marban, Jr. entered his plea on May 16.

Both are awaiting sentencing.