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Press Release

Firearm smugglers sent to prison for illegally purchasing and transporting 21 pistols into Mexico

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

LAREDO, Texas – Two Mexican nationals have been sentenced following their convictions of firearm smuggling, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Sadir Arvizu Velazquez, 40, and his son, Sadir Arvizu Barcenas, 19, both Mexican citizens residing in Querétaro, Mexico, pleaded guilty Oct. 11, 2023.

U.S. District Judge John A. Kazen has now imposed a 52-month-term of imprisonment for Velazquez, while Barcenas received 37 months. Not U.S. citizens, they are expected to face removal proceedings following their sentences. In imposing the prison terms, Judge Kazen stated that some degree of planning was evident since the men traveled from Mexico to the United States for the specific purpose of violating federal laws.

On Nov. 5, 2022, the father and son duo flew to Dallas from Mexico City, Mexico, to enlist the assistance of James Mwangangi Kiilu, 22, Denton, to buy 21 semi-automatic pistols between Nov. 6, 2022, and Nov. 9, 2022. Kiilu agreed to purchase pistols in his name and falsely certify on federal forms that the pistols were only for him.

After purchasing the weapons, Kiilu delivered them to Velazquez and Barcenas.

On Nov. 9, 2022, authorities observed Kiilu, Velazquez and Barcenas loading the pistols into a secret compartment of a small compact car, a Chevrolet Spark, modified with a secret compartment to conceal the pistols. The men then disposed of the pistol boxes, bags and receipts. Law enforcement subsequently conducted traffic stops on Kiilu, who drove a rented SUV, and Velazquez who drove the Chevrolet Spark. Authorities found the pistols in the hidden compartment within the compact car.

Law enforcement seized the firearms which have since been forfeited to the United States.

On Feb. 1, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ordered Kiilu to serve 52 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Velazquez and Barcenas will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future while Kiilu will remain on bond until ordered to self-surrender.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation with assistance from the Laredo Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Homero Ramirez prosecuted the case.

This case as part of the joint federal, state and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program. In May 2021, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a new effort to reduce violent crime, including the gun violence that is often at its core. Integral to that effort was the reinvigoration of PSN, a two-decade old, evidence-based and community-oriented program focused on reducing violent crime. The updated PSN approach, outlined in the department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime is guided by four key principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results of our efforts. The fundamental goal is to reduce violent crime, not simply to increase the number of arrests or prosecutions.

Updated April 3, 2024

Topic
Firearms Offenses