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Press Release

Haines City Man Sentenced To More Than 5 Years For Smuggling Firearms And Ammunition From The United States To Colombia

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Orlando, Florida – Senior U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp sentenced Mauricio Arbelaez (42, Haines City) to five years and three months in federal prison for smuggling goods from the United States, possessing an unregistered silencer, and possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number.  Arbelaez pleaded guilty on June 25, 2014.

According to court documents, between November 19, 2012, and November 26, 2012, Arbelaez shipped three packages to Colombia, using a shipping company in Kissimmee and a third-party shipping company located in Miami. The packages contained rounds of ammunition and firearms that were concealed inside electronic gaming systems. Arbelaez did not declare these firearms and ammunition to the shipping company when he shipped the packages, or at any time thereafter. On November 28, 2012, one of the packages was intercepted by Colombian customs officials at the El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia. Once Colombian officials discovered that the package contained a starter revolver and rounds of ammunition, they notified the third-party shipper in Miami.  After speaking to the Colombian officials, the owner of the Miami shipping company inspected the remaining two packages, which were still awaiting final shipment to Colombia. He discovered ammunition and a firearm with an obliterated serial number inside. The two packages were eventually turned over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which conducted an investigation into Arbelaez. The owner of the Kissimmee shipping company identified Arbelaez as the person who shipped all three packages.

On July 26, 2013, ATF agents located a safe inside a residence in Orlando where Arbelaez stored firearms and ammunition, including a stolen firearm, and a silencer that was not registered to Arbelaez in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.   

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew C. Searle. 

It is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” program - a nationwide, gun-violence reduction strategy.  United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, along with Trevor Velinor, Acting Special Agent in Charge, ATF, is coordinating the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort here in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. It is also a part of ATF’s Frontline strategy to reduce violent crime and improve the quality of life where law enforcement efforts are focused.

Updated January 26, 2015