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Press Release

Texas woman sent to prison for exporting pistols to Mexico

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

McALLEN, Texas – A 33-year-old Spring resident has been ordered to prison for exporting firearms and ammunition, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Brenda Belinda Barba pleaded guilty April 7, 2022.

Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ordered Barba to serve 36 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence regarding WhatsApp messages Barba sent on the morning of her arrest negotiating the purchases and transport of the firearms. In handing down the sentence, the court noted how cartels use any and all types of firearms and all firearms pose a danger to the safety of all communities. Judge Alvarez also highlighted how Barba’s story about taking the firearms to her family’s ranch did not coincide with messages she sent describing her willingness to take as many and transport as often as needed.

At the time of her plea, Barba admitted to attempting to unlawfully exporting a Glock 9mm pistol, Glock .22 caliber pistol, four Glock pistol magazines and 550 rounds of various caliber ammunition.

On Nov. 29, 2021, Barba attempted to exit the United States at the Anzalduas Port of Entry. At that time, she told law enforcement she had nothing to declare, to include firearms and ammunition. However, upon inspection of the vehicle, authorities discovered two pistols, magazines and ammunition concealed in her handbag. She told agents that she had purchased the firearms at an Academy Sports and Outdoors store and was planning to take them to her family’s ranch in Mexico.

Barba was not a licensed gun exporter and did not have permission to export the guns to Mexico.

Barba was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee Fry and Rick Blaylock prosecuted 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 May 18, 2023

Firearms Offenses