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April 29, 2009


(LAREDO, Texas) – U.S. District Judge Michaela Alvarez has sentenced Raul Alvarez, the business manager of a men’s club in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to 51 months in federal prison without parole for attempting to smuggle ammunition from the United States into Mexico, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Telling the 30-year-old U.S. citizen that the drug war is fought with weapons with this type of ammunition, Judge Alvarez sentenced him to the maximum of the applicable calculated guideline range at a hearing this morning in Laredo.

Alvarez pleaded guilty plea on Feb. 6, 2009, to attempting to willfully export ammunition from the United States into Mexico and has remained in federal custody without bond since his arrest on Dec. 11, 2008. In addition to the prison term, Judge Alvarez imposed a $2,500 fine and ordered the defendant serve a three-year-term of supervised release.

The charges against Alvarez were filed in December 2008 after a random Customs and Border Protection (CBP) outbound inspection at an international bridge in Laredo resulting in the discovery of 282 rounds of ammunition, three pistol magazines and eight assault rifle magazines in a secret compartment built into a passenger side rear quarter panel in Alvarez’s Expedition. Alvarez was bound for Mexico at the time of the inspection and had denied having anything to declare, including ammunition.

An inspection of the vehicle revealed the cavity of the rear passenger speaker in Alvarez’s vehicle had been modified into a non-factory compartment that hid the ammunition, rifle and pistol magazines. The external plastic speaker cover served as the trap door to the compartment and the cover was wired electronically to open and close by pushing certain buttons on the front of the vehicle. The United States is seeking to forfeit Alvarez’ interest in the Ford Expedition.

The charges are the result of the seizures made by CBP and an investigation conducted by Department of Homeland Security Border Enforcement Security Task Force  (BEST) led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The BEST is comprised of special agents of ICE, CBP, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and the Laredo Police Department working together to stop the illegal acquisition and smuggling of firearms out of the country. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Diana Song.



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