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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Authorities Make Multiple Arrests on Grenade Charges

McALLEN, Texas – A total of six individuals are in custody following the filing of a criminal complaint alleging the illegal receipt or possession of destructive devices that were not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, annouced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Those arrested include Celin Javier Montoya, 23, Anthony Ozuna, 20, Alfredo Rivera, 24, and Pedro Vega, 40, all of Edinburg; Noe Gonzalez, 19, of San Juan; and Jonathan Sanchez-Torres, 19, a Mexican undocumented alien who was residing in Pharr.

Vega made his initial appearance today, at which time he was ordered into custody pending detention hearing set for Dec. 9. Montoya, who was arrested in Ingleside, will appear before U.S. Magistrate B. Janice Ellington in Corpus Christi, while the remaining defendants are expected in court tomorrow morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter E. Ormsby.

The criminal complaint, filed Dec. 5, 2016, and unsealed today upon the arrests, alleges Ozuna and Rivera were attempting to broker the sale of improvised hand grenades or improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The two men were allegedly acting on behalf of Montoya and Vega. According to the charges, from Nov. 5-11, 2016, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted undercover operations and bought all of the hand grenades Montoya and Vega had available.

During the course of the investigation, ATF and HSI agents discovered Montoya and Vega allegedly obtained the grenades from Gonzalez and Sanchez-Torres. The complaint also alleges that for approximately six months, Gonzalez purchased all of the components necessary to construct dozens of improvised hand grenades, including grenade hulls, spring kits, fuses and black powder, from a combination of online merchants and local stores. The assembled “live” hand grenades were then turned over to Sanchez-Torres to be distributed, according to the allegations. 

Each of the defendants is charged with the illegal receipt or possession of a destructive device that is not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. If convicted, they each face up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. 

ATF and HSI investigated with the assistance of Texas Department of Public Safety, police departments in McAllen and Mission, Customs and Border Protection and Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Paxton and Linda Requenez are prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Component(s): 
Updated December 6, 2016