Dec. 28, 2009
MEXICAN NATIONAL SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR ATTEMPTING TO SMUGGLE AMMUNITION AND A FIREARM INTO MEXICO
(McALLEN, Texas) - Roberto Carlos Salazar-Garcia, 23, a Mexican national illegally in the United States, has been sentenced to prison for attempting to export thousands of rounds of ammunition and a pistol to Mexico, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
At a hearing today, United States District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa sentenced Garcia to 30 months in federal prison without parole to be followed by a two-year-term of supervised release. Garcia pleaded guilty to attempting to export defense articles on the United States Munitions List without obtaining a license or without written authorization in violation of Title 22 U.S.C. § 2778 on Aug. 8, 2009.
Garcia has been in federal custody without bond since July 8, 2008, following his arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents after a pistol and 2800 rounds of ammunition were discovered concealed within a spare tire of Garcia’s vehicle by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Progresso, Texas, Port of Entry (POE).
The arrest followed an ICE investigation into suspicious purchases of ammunition after receiving reports from retail stores. While conducting surveillance at several gun and discount stores that sell ammunition in the Rio Grande Valley, ICE agents observed Garcia placing what appeared to be bags of ammunition and a firearm into his vehicle. Garcia was followed to the Progresso POE where CBP officers conducting outbound inspections encountered Garcia. In response to routine questioning, Garcia told CBP officers he was not attempting to export any weapons or ammunition. However, during a secondary inspection, CBP officers found 1,400 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition, 1,400 of 7.62x39mm ammunition and a Beretta M9 pistol concealed within the spare tire of Garcia’s vehicle. Garcia admitted he was being paid $200 to $300 per trip to smuggle weapons and ammunition into Mexico and had made at least four prior trips for that purpose.
Garcia will remain in custody to serve his prison sentence and is subject to deportation upon his release from prison.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Steven Schammel.
# # #