United States Attorney’s Office Announces Sentence In Gun Smuggling Operation
Guns from local firearm dealers were sent to Central America for resale
INDIANAPOLIS– Acting United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler, today announced the conviction and sentencing of an Indianapolis man for making false statements in connection with the purchase of firearms and then unlawfully exporting those firearms from the United States to Honduras. Alex Martinez, 41, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to 39 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
“Those who choose to make illegal straw purchases of firearms will be held strictly accountable,” said Acting United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler.
This joint investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) and the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) began in May of 2010, when law enforcement authorities in Puerto Cortez, Honduras, discovered three identical, stainless steel, Beretta 9 millimeter handguns, wrapped in foam and duct tape, concealed inside a plastic, three-drawer compact disk (cd) organizer inside a cardboard box containing miscellaneous clothing and other personal items. Honduran authorities determined that the shipment of personal belongings had come from the United States, and specifically from Martinez.
A subsequent ATF trace of the three Berettas recovered in Honduras revealed that all three were purchased by Martinez in Greenwood, Indiana, in April of 2010. Further investigation by ATF and HSI revealed that between 2006 and 2010, Martinez purchased 28 handguns from federally licensed gun dealers in the Indianapolis area. Nine of those firearms were later confirmed to have subsequently been registered to various individuals in Honduras.
On June 16, 2011, ATF and HSI agents executed a federal search warrant at Martinez’ residence in Indianapolis. Agents did not find any firearms at Martinez’ residence, however Martinez admitted he had purchased the 28 handguns, shipped some of the weapons to Honduras himself, and sold some of the firearms to individuals who Martinez knew intended to ship them to Honduras. Martinez further admitted that he did not have a license to export firearms from the United States and that he knew it was wrong to export the weapons in the manner he did.
In imposing the sentence that she did, Judge Pratt found that the crimes charged in this case were exceedingly serious, particularly given the destination of the weapons. In reaching that conclusion, the Court noted that Honduras has had the highest homicide rate in the world since 2010, according to the U.S. State Department.
"ATF's mission is to remove from our communities those who would engage in or enable violent crime," stated Special Agent in Charge Michael Boxler.
"This sentence is a direct result of the dedicated efforts of HSI and our ATF partners to create a safer community for the citizens of Indiana," said Special Agent in Charge Gary Hartwig, of HSI Chicago. "Arresting those who attempt to illegally smuggle weapons out of the U.S. is an HSI priority."
According to Assistant United States Attorney Mathew Rinka, who prosecuted this case for the government, Martinez must pay a $5000 fine and serve two years of supervised release following his sentence.