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Jan. 31, 2012

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Two Convicted of Exporting Ammunition

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Two men have entered pleas of guilty for exporting approximately 3,000 rounds of ammunition to Mexico without a license, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Guillermo Enrique Villarreal, 37, of Brownsville, and Leoncio Sanchez, a U.S. citizen living in Matamoros, pleaded guilty today to exporting defense articles without a license before United States District Judge Andrew S. Hanen.

The charges against Villarreal and Sanchez arose when Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents spotted the two men leaving a McAllen Academy Sports & Outdoors store after having purchasing approximately 3,000 rounds of 7.62 x 39 millimeter ammunition. ATF reported the information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) agents who began an investigation of the two men which revealed that Villarreal and Sanchez had purchased approximately 4,000 rounds ammunition just four days prior.

On Dec. 12, 2011, ICE-HSI agents were notified that Villarreal and Sanchez entered the United States in Brownsville at which time agents began surveillance. The agents watched as the defendants purchased a total of approximately 10,000 rounds of ammunition at the Academy stores in Brownsville, Weslaco and Edinburg, Texas. ICE-HSI agents saw the defendants return to Brownsville, where they hid the ammunition in the cab of the pickup they were driving. Later, agents approached Villarreal and Sanchez and received consent to search the pickup at which time the ammunition was found.

Weapons and ammunition cannot be exported without a license. Both Villarreal and Sanchez admitted to exporting ammunition to Mexico without a license for a fee. 

Both have been in custody where they will remain pending their sentencing hearing, set for May 7, 2012. At that time, they face up to 20 years imprisonment, followed by a maximum of three years of supervised release in addition to a fine of up to $1 million. 

The case was investigated by ICE-HSI with the assistance of ATF and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Leonard and Karen Betancourt.