News and Press Releases

Attempt to Export Firearms into Mexico Lands Laredo in Prison

Aug, 30, 2011

LAREDO, Texas – Daniel Bustamante, 35, of Laredo, Texas, was sentenced to prison today for attempting to smuggle 16 firearms, including AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles, to the Republic of Mexico in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today along with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Dewey Webb.

At a hearing before Senior U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen, Bustamante was sentenced to 90 months in federal prison to be followed by a three-year-term of supervised release for this crime. Bustamante has been in custody since his January 2011 arrest where he will remain pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future. Bustamante pleaded guilty to attempting to export a firearm from the United States into Mexico on June 15, 2011.

On Jan. 18, 2011, the Laredo Police Department (LPD) received an anonymous tip that the driver of a 1993 Chevrolet pickup bearing a specific license plate number would be transporting assault rifles to a ranch off of Pico Rd. which abuts the Rio Grande River in West Laredo for delivery to Mexico and “los Zetas,” a Mexican criminal organization. In response to the tip, LPD officers identified Bustamante as the owner of the truck and a “be on the lookout” or “BOLO” was broadcast to LPD officers. Later that evening, LPD officers spotted and stopped Bustamante in his pickup truck. In the truck, officers saw a soft green rifle case, two canvas bags and a hard gray plastic gun case. The bags and cases contained a total of 16 firearms, including both assault rifles and pistols, as well as 100 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition, all of which were seized by law enforcement. Bustamante admitted to investigating officers that he knew he was carrying firearms destined for Mexico. The federal charges were brought after ATF special agents determined the firearms were operational and confirmed they had been manufactured outside the state of Texas. 

Assistant United States Attorneys Homero Ramirez and Elizabeth Rabe prosecuted the case.

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