San Juan woman indicted after weapons cache exportation attempt
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
McALLEN, Texas – A 31-year-old San Juan resident is set to appear in federal court on charges of firearms and drug trafficking, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Jessica Alvarado is expected to appear on the charges in the indictment at 1:30 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia S. Medrano.
Originally charged by criminal complaint, a federal grand jury returned the two-count indictment Feb. 21 against Alvarado on charges of smuggling goods from the United States as well as possessing approximately 499 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute.
On Jan. 31, Alvarado attempted to depart the United States via the Hidalgo Port of Entry driving a Ford F-150, according to the complaint. She allegedly denied having firearms. However, the charges allege authorities noticed the bed of the pickup truck was abnormally elevated and referred her to secondary inspection. A search of the truck allegedly resulted in the discovery of 33 AK-47 variant rifles, three AR-15 rifles, a .22 caliber Long rifle, two .45 caliber handguns and 39 ammunition magazines.
According to the complaint, Alvarado does not possess a license to export firearms from the United States.
The investigation led to a search at her residence in San Juan, according to the charges. There, law enforcement also allegedly found approximately 499 grams of a packaged white powdery substance that field tested positive for the characteristics of cocaine and more than $13,000 in bulk U.S. currency.
If convicted, Alvarado faces up to 20 years in prison for trafficking cocaine charge as well as a maximum of 10 years for illegal exportation of firearms.
Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter I. Brostowin is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
Updated March 3, 2023