Ammunition Smuggler Sentenced
LAREDO, Texas - Luis Garcia-Ugarte, 38, of Laredo, has been sentenced to federal prison for facilitating the attempted illegal export of thousands of rounds of assault rifle ammunition, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. He pleaded guilty Aug. 28, 2013.
Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo handed Garcia-Ugarte a sentence of 41 months in federal prison to be followed by two years of supervised release.
According to testimony, authorities learned an individual was to purchase and provide to Garcia-Ugarte 1,500 rounds of 7.62x39 millimeter assault rifle ammunition on Oct. 10, 2012. Federal and local authorities conducted surveillance and observed Garcia-Ugarte arrive as scheduled at a Wal-Mart parking lot in Laredo driving a small sedan.
After obtaining the ammunition, Garcia-Ugarte left the parking lot and was pulled over by a Laredo Police Department (LPD) patrol officer for a traffic violation. The officer reported Garcia-Ugarte spoke only Spanish and did not possess a drivers’ license or any means of identification.
A search of the vehicle’s trunk resulted in the discovery of an additional 8,160 rounds of assault rifle ammunition (7.62x39 millimeter and .223 caliber). He claimed that none of the 9,660 rounds of ammunition belonged to him. He later recanted this claim, admitting to transporting the ammunition in his car and that he was to later transport other ammunition in his home to Mexican truck drivers who would attempt to illegally smuggle it into Mexico. Agents discovered an additional 2,318 rounds of 7.62x39 millimeter assault rifle ammunition at his residence, resulting in a total of 11,978 rounds of ammunition.
All ammunition was intercepted before reaching smugglers.
He was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosvies with the assistance of Border Patrol and the Laredo Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Jose Homero Ramirez and James B. Hepburn prosecuted the case.