Grenade Launcher Conspirators Sentenced to Prison
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Two people have been ordered to federal prison following their convictions related to a conspiracy to purchase and smuggle an M203 Grenade Launcher as well as three semi-automatic rifles, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
ulce Maria Rippstine, 38, of San Juan, and Juan Martin Segura-Olvera, 57, of Reynosa, Mexico, pleaded guilty Dec. 7, 2017, and June 29, 2017, respectively.
Today, U.S. District Rolando Olvera ordered Rippstine to serve 37 months in prison, while Segura-Olvera received a 50-month term of imprisonment. Rippstine was further ordered to serve two years of supervised release. Not a U.S. citizen, Segura-Olvera is expected to face deportation proceedings following his prison term. The court acknowledged Rippstine’s and Segura-Olvera’s similar roles in the offense, but gave individual consideration to their actions as well as the actions of the other co-defendants.
Beginning in the fall of 2016, purchasers located in Mexico had negotiated the sale of a grenade launcher and three assault rifles with undercover federal agents who were posing as black market arms dealers. Acting on behalf of the purchasers in Reynosa, Rippstine and Segura met with the agents on Feb. 7, 2017, in Los Fresnos. Following the purchase, Rippstine and Segura were to act as the munitions transporter to facilitate the exportation and smuggling into Mexico.
Oscar Fredy Garcia, 31, of Reynosa, and Jorge Cortez-Trujillo, 42, of Veracruz, Mexico, were also members of the conspiracy. Garcia had been living illegally in the United States when he arrived in Los Fresnos on Feb. 7, 2017. In his possession was $5,000 to pay for the previously negotiated exchange. Cortez-Trujillo also illegally entered the United States prior to Feb. 7, 2017. His role was to inspect the grenade launcher and other munitions to insure the quality for the buyer in Mexico.
Rippstine had travelled to Reynosa to pick up Segura-Olvera before returning to the United States to meet at the predetermined location on Feb. 7. After an initial meet-and-greet, money was exchanged and Cortez-Trujillo inspected the grenade launcher, commenting that he was familiar with the weapon and was ex-Mexican military. He also stated that ammunition for the weapon was available in Mexico and that he had crossed these weapons previously. After he completed the inspection, Cortez-Trujillo directed the agents to load the munitions into the backseat of Rippstine’s vehicle. At that time, all four men were taken into custody.
Garcia and Cortez-Trujillo were each sentenced to five years in prison for their role in the conspiracy late last year.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation with the assistance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Corley is prosecuting the case.