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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

June 19, 2012

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

Two Land in Federal Prison for Exporting Ammunition

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Two men have been sentenced to federal prison following their convictions of 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, 22, a U.S. citizen living in Matamoros, pleaded guilty Jan. 21, 2012, to exporting defense articles without a license.

Today, United States District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who accepted the guilty pleas, handed Villarreal and Sanchez respective terms of 31 and 57 months in prison. Both will also serve a three-year-term of supervised release following completion of their respective sentences.  

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 Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents who began an investigation of the two men which revealed Villarreal and Sanchez had purchased approximately 4,000 rounds ammunition just four days prior.

On Dec. 12, 2011, HSI agents were notified that Villarreal and Sanchez entered the United States in Brownsville at which time agents began surveillance, watching as the defendants purchased a total of approximately 10,000 rounds of ammunition at the Academy stores in Brownsville, Weslaco and Edinburg, Texas. 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 transfer to a U.S. Bureau of prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

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