A federal grand jury indicted a Belle restaurant owner suspected of buying handguns after he entered the country illegally.
Elias Lopez, 40, of Belle was arrested Aug. 28 after he allegedly bought two handguns from an undercover Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives agent, according to federal court documents.
Lopez was indicted Wednesday on one count of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. Lopez owns and manages the El Caporal restaurant in Belle.
Homeland Security investigators determined in June 2012 that Lopez had entered the United States illegally from Mexico, where he still was considered a citizen. According to court records, investigators found no record that he entered the country legally and initiated removal proceedings.
Homeland Security and agents with the local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives received a tip in April 2013 from a concerned citizen who'd heard Lopez talking about buying guns, according to a federal criminal complaint.
An undercover ATF agent went to Lopez' Belle home where he talked about buying several different types of handguns. Lopez told him he wanted to buy a pistol in the near future and a rifle at some point, according to the complaint.
The undercover agent set up a controlled buy with a number of firearms near Belle on Aug. 28. Lopez met the agent and selected a Glock Model 35 .40-caliber pistol and a Springfield Model 1911-A1 .45-caliber pistol. He gave the agent $675 for the guns and put them in his vehicle.
He was later arrested.
Lopez faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. He is being held without bond at South Central Regional Jail.