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Press Release

Sterling Man Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Weapons to Bolivia

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Joan Manuel Ramirez Lema, 40, of Sterling, pleaded guilty today to charges related to smuggling guns from the United States to Bolivia.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, from Jan. 2010 to Aug. 2015, Ramirez Lema smuggled more than 80 firearms from the United States to Bolivia. Ramirez Lema, a U.S. citizen, shipped used vehicles with multiple firearms hidden in door panels. In a statement to Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents, Ramirez Lema said he shipped merchandise and cars to Bolivia via freight forwarding companies in Baltimore, Maryland and Newark, New Jersey.  He stated that he usually purchased between two and three guns a month and bought most of the guns in Leesburg and Sterling.

Ramirez Lema faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on Jan. 6, 2017. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Michael Boxler, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Washington Field Division, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Walutes, Jr. is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-cr-206.

Updated September 23, 2016