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May 27, 2011

MEXICAN NATIONAL SENTENCED FOR ATTEMPTING TO SMUGGLE GRENADES AND MACHINE GUNS TO MEXICO

(LAREDO, Texas) – Guadalupe Salazar-Tovar, a 38-year-old Mexican citizen from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, has been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for attempting to smuggle 20 hand grenades and several machine guns into Mexico in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. The sentence was handed down yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph M. Hood in Laredo. 

On Nov. 30, 2010, Salazar-Tovar and Eliu Rivera-Mendez, 29, also of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico,  placed an order with undercover ATF agents, who were posing as weapon dealers, for the purchase of 20 M-67 military grenades and eight fully-automatic AR-15 and AK-47 type assault rifles for $10,400. Salazar-Tovar told the agents the weapons were to be delivered into Mexico after purchase. On Dec. 7, 2010, Salazar-Tovar and Rivera-Mendez met with ATF undercover agents at which time the agents demonstrated the use of the grenades which the defendants believed were fully-functioning fragmentation grenades when, in reality, were props and non-functioning. During the meeting, Salazar-Tovar once again confirmed to the undercover agents that the weapons were not for him but for someone in Nuevo Laredo. Salazar-Tovar said the weapons were as ordered, instructed Rivera-Mendez to bring the money from their car to him and personally handed the agents $10,400 in cash. Both men were arrested at the scene.
 
Rivera-Mendez has also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by ATF, with the assistance of ICE and the Laredo Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Homero Ramirez prosecuted the case.

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