April 14, 2011

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(McALLEN, Texas) - Two Mexican nationals have been sentenced to prison for their roles in attempting to export munitions from the United States without a license, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Jerry Robinette announced today.

Chief United States District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa sentenced Mexican nationals Sergio Perez-Contreras, 73, and Jose Jesus Miramontes-Duarte, 59, to 37 and 30 months incarceration, respectively, at a hearing held today. Both defendants were convicted of attempting to export munitions without a license in June 2010 after pleading guilty to the felony offense.   

The charges are the result of an HSI investigation during which agents observed Perez-Contreras leaving the business of a local federal firearms licensee (FFL) with several packages, get into a taxi and ultimately arrive at a warehouse in south McAllen on March 5, 2009. Once at the warehouse, Perez-Contreras met with Miramontes-Duarte and removed the packages from the taxi transferred them to the cab of a tractor trailer driven by Miramontes-Duarte. Perez-Contreras then left in the taxi with an ultimate destination of the Hidalgo, Texas, port of entry.  At the port of entry, Perez-Contreras was stopped by HSI and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents as he attempted to depart the United States. In his possession, Perez-Contreras had a receipt for the purchase of 5,000 small pistol primers, 1,400 large pistol primers, 1,100 assorted calibers of rifle bullets, 19 pounds of smokeless power and two rifle barrel blanks from the FFL where he had been seen earlier in the day. Between the pistol primers and the rifle bullets, this amount of munitions represents the ability to manufacture approximately 7500 rounds of ammunition. Meanwhile, Miramontes-Duarte left the warehouse area and was seen driving to another location where he rearranged the firearms parts and ammunition components in the cab of his truck. When Miramontes-Duarte attempted to depart the United States through the Pharr, Texas, Port of Entry, he was stopped by HSI agents and CBP officers. The firearms parts and ammunition components for which his co-defendant had the receipt were discovered in the cab of his truck. Further investigation revealed that Perez-Contreras had illegally exported munitions on 12 previous occasions.

Perez-Contreras and Miramontes-Duarte have been in federal custody without bond since their arrest on March 5, 2009, and will remain in custody pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future where they will serve out their sentences. While both men are subject to deportation upon release from prison, the court has further ordered each man to serve a two-year-term of supervised release, the conditions of which will become enforceable should either man return to the U.S. even illegally and prompt a revocation and additional prison sentence if they fail to abide by any condition. 

Assistant United States Attorney Steven Schammel prosecuted the case.

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