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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Eagle Pass Brothers Sentenced To Federal Prison For Ammunition Smuggling

In Del Rio this afternoon, United States District Judge Alia Moses sentenced 34-year-old Richard Hesles, Jr., and his brother, 24-year-old Damien Hesles to 120 months and 110 months in federal prison, respectively, in connection with a scheme to smuggle over 6,000 rounds of ammunition and hundreds of firearm magazines into the Republic of Mexico stated United States Attorney Robert Pitman, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent In Charge Janice Ayala and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent In Charge Robert Elder, Houston Division.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Moses ordered that Richard Hesles pay a $7,500 fine and be placed under supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term; Damien Hesles, a $5,000 fine and three years of supervised release following his prison term.  Judge Moses also ordered that Richard Hesles, Jr., and Damien Hesles pay monetary judgments in the amount of $54,414 and $42,634, respectively.  Those sums represent the value of property involved or used to facilitate the defendants’ scheme.

On October 25, 2013, the defendants pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the smuggling of goods from the United States.  According to the factual basis in this case, while under surveillance at the Hesles Gun and Knife Store in Eagle Pass, TX, on February 17, 2012, Damien Hesles unloaded several boxes from his vehicle.  Those boxes were subsequently loaded into another vehicle which began traveling towards the U.S.-Mexico border.  When the driver of that vehicle noticed he was being followed, he stopped the vehicle and discarded the boxes inside a dumpster, then fled the area.  Inside the boxes, surveillance agents discovered U.S. defense articles, namely 100 AR-15 assault rifle rear tactical sights and 100 AR-15 assault rifle front tactical sights.

Investigators were able to determine that Piedras Negras, Mexico residents Oliver Bres-Carranza and Erik Alan Garza had spoken to Richard Hesles, Jr., and placed the order for the AR-15 sights.  Damien Hesles received payment from Bres-Carranza and Garza for the sights and then shared the money with his brother.

Authorities estimate that the brothers aided and abetted the exportation or attempted exportation of over 6,000 rounds of ammunition designed for use in various firearms, including AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles as well as .50 caliber sniper rifles; over 300 assault rifle magazines and more than 60 magazines for other types of firearms; and, firearm sights.

The factual basis, which the defendants admitted was accurate, stated that the brothers procured ammunition, firearm magazines and firearm sights for individuals in Mexico from 2010 until 2012 and that Richard Hesles, Jr., knew that the items were going to Los Zetas Cartel operatives in Mexico.

The brothers, along with the store owner, have entered into an agreement with the Government to surrender their Federal Firearms License and to no longer support or fund, directly or indirectly, any business or venture which deals in any manner with the sale, trade or distribution of firearms, ammunition, magazines and/or components/accessories related to the firearms trade.

“Gun and drug trafficking fuels violence by criminal organizations domestically and abroad,” said Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala, HSI San Antonio. “HSI special agents will continue working jointly with our law enforcement partners and utilize our expertise in export enforcement to keep our citizens safe and secure.”

On January 15, 2014, Erik Alan Garza was sentenced to 44 months in federal prison and fined $3,000 for his role in the smuggling scheme.  Bres-Carranza, who remains in custody, faces up to ten years in federal prison after pleading guilty in October 2013 to his role in the smuggling scheme.  Bres-Carranza is scheduled to be sentenced at 9:00am on February 25, 2014, before Judge Moses.  A 5th defendant in this case, Rolando Tamayo, was released on bond following his arrest in June 2012, but is now considered a fugitive.

The case was investigated by agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) together with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Galdo prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.