Indianapolis residents convicted of trafficking firearms to Honduras
Three convicted of illegally purchasing and exporting handguns
Indianapolis – Josh J. Minkler, the United States Attorney, announced today the recent convictions of three Indianapolis residents in two separate schemes to unlawfully purchase handguns in Indiana and export those weapons to Honduras, Central America.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence sentenced Wilmer A. Mejia-Fuentes (“Mejia”) to 36 months imprisonment and a $1,500 fine for his role in purchasing and exporting 21 handguns to Honduras. Judge Lawrence had previously sentenced Mejia’s ex-wife, Starlene Mejia, to two years of probation for illegally straw-purchasing three of the 21 handguns her ex-husband exported to Honduras.
In a separate but nearly identical case, on July 31, 2014, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentenced Alex Martinez to 39 months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine for unlawfully purchasing and then exporting 28 handguns from Indiana to Honduras.
This case was jointly investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Policia National Civil de Honduras, after law enforcement officials in Puerto Cortez, Honduras, located three identical, stainless steel, Beretta 9 millimeter handguns, wrapped in foam and duct tape, concealed inside a box containing clothing and household items that had been shipped from the United States. All three weapons were traced back to a purchase made by Alex Martinez at an Indianapolis area gun store. During the course of a lengthy subsequent investigation, ATF and HSI agents determined that between August of 2006 and November of 2010, Martinez and the Mejias purchased a total of forty nine (49) handguns from approximately nine (9) different federally licensed gun dealers in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Of those forty nine 49 firearms, eighteen (18) were subsequently located in Honduras, where they were registered to various individuals in the Honduran national firearms registry. Thirty-one of the weapons remain unaccounted for.
When contacted by federal agents in Indianapolis, both Alex Martinez and Wilmer Mejia admitted they had exported the weapons they purchased to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, for the purpose of reselling them. Starlene Mejia admitted she had purchased firearms for her ex-husband which he subsequently exported to Honduras. Wilmer Mejia admitted that he was able to sell the handguns in Honduras for nearly $800 per weapon more than he paid for them.
These crimes were particularly egregious given the destination of the illegally exported firearms. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the city of San Pedro Sula, where many of the guns ended up, has been particularly hard hit by violence.
According to Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Rinka, who prosecuted the case for the government, both Alex Martinez and Wilmer Mejia were ordered to serve two years of supervised release following their release from incarceration. Wilmer Mejia, who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, also faces deportation proceedings.