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Press Release

Texan sentenced for trafficking firearms to Mexico in ice chest

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

LAREDO, Texas – A 74-year-old San Antonio man has been sent to prison following his conviction for illegal exportation of firearms and ammunition, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S Hamdani.

Atanacio Espinoza-Duarte pleaded guilty Feb. 15.

U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana ordered Espinoza-Duarte to serve 24 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard how firearms illegally exported from the United States to Mexico are used in violent crime south of the border. In handing down the sentence, the court noted that it is no excuse for delivery drivers to ignore the merchandise they are transporting.

At the time of his plea, Espinoza-Duarte admitted to attempting to illegally exporting firearms to Mexico.

On June 14, 2021, Espinoza-Duarte attempted to enter Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, through the Laredo Port of Entry in a pickup truck. Law enforcement working the outbound inspection lane observed an ice chest in the flat bed of Espinoza-Duarte’s truck. Upon further investigation, authorities discovered five AK-47 rifles and five, 30-round AK-47 magazines that were fully loaded.

Espinoza-Duarte admitted he purchased some of the seized firearms from a man in Mesquite.  

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

Customs and Border Protection conducted the investigation with the assistance of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco J. Rodriguez prosecuted the case.

Updated June 29, 2023

Firearms Offenses