VARGAS SENTENCED FOR CONSPIRING TO POSSESS MACHINE GUN AS PART OF A SCHEME TO SEND FIREARMS TO MEXICO
May 17, 2011
ATLANTA, GA - AURELIO VARGAS, JR., 31, a/k/a “Angel Feliciano-Santiago” and “Andres Marroquin,” a Mexican citizen residing in Lawrenceville, Georgia, was sentenced today by United States District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr. on charges of conspiracy to illegally possess a machine gun and being an alien who illegally re-entered the United States after having been previously deported.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of today's sentencing, “The illegal flow of firearms from Atlanta to Mexico must be stopped. These trafficked firearms frequently end up in the hands of violent, lawless individuals who use them against each other or, worse, innocent civilians. Law enforcement in this district is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who traffic firearms to Mexico.”
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Gregory K. Gant, said, “A scheme to illegally transport any firearm internationally is a crime that cannot be tolerated, and as demonstrated by this case, we are committed to working with our federal partners to continue pursuing individuals and organizations which seek to circumvent our export laws and engage in this type of gun crime.”
“This defendant conspired to funnel dangerous weapons to Mexico, further contributing to the violent activity that is taking place along the Southwest border,” said Brock Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta. “Stopping the flow of weapons across our borders is a national security issue and a top priority for ICE and we will continue to work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to disrupt these kinds of activities.”
VARGAS was sentenced to 8 years in federal prison followed by 3 years of supervised release. VARGAS pleaded guilty to the charges on December 10, 2010.
A co-defendant in this case, ALVARO HERNAN RAMIREZ, 35, a/k/a “Juan Carlos Torres-Rivera,”a Colombian national residing in Atlanta, Georgia, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a machine gun and making a false statement in an application for a passport. RAMIREZ is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Duffey on June 20, 2011.
According to United States Attorney Yates and information in court: In June, 2010, Federal agents learned from a confidential source that RAMIREZ, acting on behalf of VARGAS, was attempting to acquire seven to ten firearms, including a machine gun, to transport to Mexico. The confidential source and undercover agents met with and negotiated with RAMIREZ through the course of the summer. On August 18, 2010, undercover agents arranged to meet with RAMIREZ in order that RAMIREZ could purchase multiple firearms from the undercover agents. RAMIREZ and VARGAS both met an undercover agent in a vehicle driven by RAMIREZ and the undercover agent showed RAMIREZ and VARGAS nine firearms. After negotiating for the purchase of six of the guns, including one machine gun, VARGAS produced $5,750.00 in cash and gave it to the undercover agent. The undercover agent placed the money in a bag with the remaining firearms and asked RAMIREZ to open the trunk so he could put the purchased firearms inside. Once the undercover agent got out of RAMIREZ’s car, other agents converged and arrested RAMIREZ and VARGAS. It was later determined that VARGAS was a convicted felon who had been previously deported and had illegally re-entered the United States.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Assistance in this case was provided by Special Agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI).
Assistant United States Attorney Angela Jordan and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory E. Radics are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.usdoj.gov/usao/gan.