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Press Release

Million-dollar ammunition smuggling ring dismantled

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

McALLEN, Texas – A 34-year-old man residing in Mexico has pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to launder money related to the purchase of over two million rounds of ammunition, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Erving Alberto Sauceda aka Alberto Lizarraga Barrera admitted to conspiring with others to smuggle currency and monetary instruments from Mexico into the United States. Sauceda and co-conspirators planned to then place large scale ammunition orders through various internet retailers. 

As part of the scheme, Sauceda admitted he and others purchased approximately $1,057,464 worth of ammunition and magazines from approximately August 2021 through the time of his arrest this April. 

The ammunition included 1,760,010 rounds of 7.62x39mm, 278,000 rounds of .223, 111,000 rounds of 5.56, 30,000 rounds of .308, 1,000 rounds of 9mm and 504 AK rifle magazines. 

The items were subsequently shipped to various locations in the Rio Grande Valley for their intended unlawful export to Mexico. 

Sauceda admitted he knew the ammunition and magazines were purchased for the purpose of being unlawfully smuggled from the United States to Mexico in violation of federal law.

“Smuggling millions of rounds of ammunition into Mexico is astounding and historic, even for the Southern District of Texas, a district that is ground zero in the battle against Mexico’s cartels and the illicit supply of firearms and ammunition to cartels,” said Hamdani. “This prosecution holds accountable the individuals and transnational criminal networks financing and smuggling firearms and ammunition into Mexico. Today’s guilty pleas are a result of the close partnership between federal and state law enforcement.”

Chief U.S. District Judge Randy Crane will impose sentencing Sept. 12. At that time, Sauceda faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $500,000 maximum fine.

He has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing.

Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Texas Department of Public Safety - Criminal Investigations Division are conducting the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, Hidalgo County Constable’s Office and police departments in Mission, La Joya and Palmview. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage. Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberto Lopez Jr. is prosecuting the case. 

Updated June 28, 2024

Topic
Firearms Offenses