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Press Release

Illegal sale of firearms and ammunition buys prison time for local felons

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

McALLEN, Texas – Two Rio Grande City residents have been sentenced for being felons in possession of firearms and for attempting to sell multiple firearms and ammunition, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Jesus Maria Salazar Jr., 29, and Filiberto Martinez Jr., 42 pleaded guilty on Oct. 20, 2023.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa has now imposed a 30-month term of imprisonment for Salazar, while Martinez received 22 months. Both must also serve 2 years of supervised release following their sentences. At the hearing, the Court heard additional evidence including that both Salazar and Martinez had federal convictions for smuggling ammunition. In handing down the prison terms, Judge Hinojosa noted their prior convictions.

On March 2, 2023, Salazar sold three AK-47 variant rifles, one AR-15 variant rifle and approximately 5,900 rounds of ammunition to an ATF undercover agent.

The investigation revealed Martinez stored three of the firearms for Salazar prior to the sale.

Salazar and Martinez are both prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition following their respective federal convictions for illegally smuggling ammunition to Mexico.

Both will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cahal P. McColgan prosecuted the 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 June 24, 2024

Firearms Offenses