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Press Release

Pharr man pleads guilty to exporting .50 caliber ammunition

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

McALLEN, Texas – A 21-year-old Pharr resident has pleaded guilty to smuggling goods from the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Pedro Cruz Almeida Jr. admitted to attempting to export .50 caliber tracer-equipped linked ammunition without a license to export.

On Feb. 3, Almeida was driving a red Hyundai Elantra, at which time authorities conducted a traffic stop.

A subsequent search led to the discovery of 600 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition in the vehicle. Almeida admitted he intended to transfer the ammunition to an individual waiting at the Port of Entry driving a vehicle with a Tamaulipas, Mexico, license plate. In Mexico, he received cash to order the ammunition. Almeida admitted he ordered ammunition approximately 30 occasions over the past year.

On Feb. 9, agents subsequently seized an additional 300 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition postmarked to Almeida.

At the plea today, Almeida informed the court he was attending a local police academy at the time of his arrest.

U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez accepted the plea and set sentencing for July 27. At that time, Almeida faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

Almeida was permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Hidalgo County Constable’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter I. Brostowin is prosecuting the case.

This case is being prosecuted 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 25, 2023