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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Braunfels Ammo Smuggler Sentenced To Federal Prison

In Del Rio today, 23-year-old Jesus Cardenas of New Braunfels, TX, was sentenced to six years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine for smuggling ammunition from the United States announced U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala.

In February, a federal jury convicted the defendant and his 34-year-old brother, Luis Cardenas, of two counts of smuggling ammunition from the United States.  The jury also convicted Jesus Cardenas of two counts of smuggling ammunition and magazines from the United States. 

Evidence presented during the three-day-trial showed that on two separate occasions between November 2011 and January 2012, Jesus Cardenas purchased, on behalf of an individual in Piedras Negras, Mexico, a total of more than 15,000 rounds of ammunition and 400 assault rifle magazines intended for export to Mexico.   Furthermore, Luis Cardenas was paid to transfer the ammunition to 31-year-old San Antonio Jason Vega who then transported it to Del Rio. 

On December 1, 2011, United States Border Patrol agents seized part of the ammunition along with 23 assault rifles within yards of the Rio Grande River outside Del Rio.  Special Agents with Homeland Security Investigations seized additional ammunition and magazines in January 2012.

Luis Cardenas is scheduled to be sentenced on February 9, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Alia Moses in Del Rio.  On May 27, 2014, Judge Moses sentenced Vega to 54 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay a $1,500 fine.  Prior to trial, Vega pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of approximately 4,300 rounds ammunition on November 17, 2011. 

“HSI is committed to preventing weapons and ammunition from reaching the hands of transnational criminal enterprises that pose a threat to public safety in the United States and abroad,” said Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala, HSI San Antonio. “HSI special agents will continue working jointly with our law enforcement partners and utilize our expertise in export enforcement to keep our citizens safe and secure.”

This case resulted from an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) together with United States Customs and Border Protection, United States Border Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant United States Attorneys Lewis Thomas and Patrick Burke prosecuted this case for the Government.
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Updated December 15, 2014