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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 20, 2014

San Antonio Man And Woman Sentenced To Federal Prison For Aiding In The Exportation Of Firearms From The United States

In Del Rio this afternoon, United States District Judge Alia Moses sentenced 41-year-old CARLO LEE REYES (aka “El Raton”) to 240 months in federal prison, and 39-year-old ALICIA CASTANEDA (aka “Alicia Palomo”) to 33 months in federal prison announced Robert Pitman, United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent Robert Elder, Houston Division.
A jury in Del Rio convicted Reyes on October 3, 2013, of aiding the attempted exportation of firearms from the United States and being a felon in possession of an assault rifle-style firearm. In addition to the prison term, Judge Moses ordered that Carlo Lee Reyes pay a $5,000 fine and be placed under supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term. Castaneda pled guilty to aiding the attempted exportation of firearms from the U.S. Judge Moses imposed a supervised release period of three years on Castaneda.
Reyes, who was found guilty for his role in acquiring, paying for, storing, and transporting weapons, is the last defendant to be sentenced as part of Operation Iron Justice, a wide-ranging investigation led by HSI into the exportation of firearms from the United States into Mexico. Reyes would enlist others to locate firearms in San Antonio, and then coordinate through intermediaries to pick up the firearms and move them to a stash house. From there, others would arrange to pick up the firearms and transport them to Eagle Pass, for ultimate export to the traffickers in Mexico.
Operation Iron Justice, initiated by HSI Eagle Pass in early 2011, targeted several weapons trafficking
organizations believed to be acquiring firearms for the “Los Zetas” drug trafficking organization. The firearms, including weapons, ammunition, and assault rifle magazines, were to be smuggled to the Zetas operating in the Piedras Negras, Mexico, area, for protection against rival cartels, the Mexican military, and law enforcement.
The investigation identified several smuggling cells operating in the U.S. Using a number of investigative
techniques, agents obtained evidence of the firearm trafficking, including the identification of various
individuals involved in the trafficking, the interdiction and seizure of large numbers of firearms, rounds of
ammunition, and currency, as well as quantities of cocaine and marijuana. The investigation included the
seizure of 15 assault rifles and 518 rifle magazines in September 2011; the seizure of 11 assault rifles and 15
magazines in October 2011; the seizure of $109,545.00 in U.S. currency near Falfurrias, Texas, in October 2011; and the arrest of Richard Hesles, Jr., and his brother, Damian Hesles, owners of Hesles Gun and Knife Store in Eagle Pass, who were responsible for aiding and abetting or attempting the exportation of .50 caliber firearms, ammunition, magazines, and firearm sights to Mexico. All told, Operation Iron Justice resulted in over 50 arrests from indictments brought in the Western District of Texas, the seizure of 63,742 rounds of ammunition, 4,031 magazines, 220 assault rifles, $1,079,834.95 U.S. currency, 35 pounds of cocaine, 173 pounds of marijuana, and 18 vehicles.
The defendants convicted and sentenced in connection with Operation Iron Justice are as follows:

DEFENDANT

PLEA or FOUND GUILTY
 at TRIAL DATE

SENTENCING DATE/
SENTENCE

1.   Evelyn GUJARDO‐Campos

10/07/2010

07/3/2012: 26 months

12/02/2010

02/7/2010: 63 months

3.   Michael Jonathan ROGERS

03/23/2011

11/28/2011: 30 months

4.   Robert Lee PEREZ

08/25/2011

05/16/2012: 30 months

5.   Armando LOPEZ

08/25/2011

02/15/2012: 63 months

6.   Luis Alfredo SALINAS

12/21/2011

06/26/2012: 72 months

7.   Rogelio Velarde MARTINEZ III

11/16/2011

11/05/2012: 48 months

8.   Alfredo SALAZAR

12/21/2011

01/09/2013: 36 months

9.   Shane Vernon STULL

09/22/2011

02/17/2012: 13 months

10. Janie LUNA

11/22/2011

04/23/2012: 24 months

11. Shiloh Nathaniel MORENO

11/03/2011

04/09/2012: 18 months

12. Mayra GARCIA‐Gonzalez

03/07/2012

06/04/2012: 46 months

13. Guadalupe Catalina VASQUEZ

03/28/2012

11/06/2012: 63 months

14. Enrique DELARA

03/08/2012

08/28/2012: 100 months

15. Vanessa MEDINA‐Velasco

04/24/2012

08/27/2012: 70 months

16. Victor CASTRO

01/19/2012

06/11/2012: 48 months

17. Jimena Prisilla GUERRERO

04/19/2012

02/04/2013: 37 months

18. Luis Bernardo ALBA

02/08/2012

06/26/2012: 37 months

19. Lisa Marie OLIVAREZ‐Vasquez

09/27/2012

02/04/2014: 52 months

20. Jose Angel MARTINEZ

06/28/2012

02/05/2013: 51 months

21. Roberto Frederico ESQUIVEL

03/28/2012

10/19/2012: 84 months

22. William TORRES‐Cordoba

04/19/2012

10/10/2012: 84 months

23. Sergio GUTIERREZ‐Vasquez

06/28/2012

02/06/2014: 48 months

24. Jose Roberto HERNANDEZ

03/08/2012

04/09/2014: 30 months

25. Salvador MONTENEGRO

09/27/2012

08/07/2013: 71 months

26. Jose NEGRETE‐Rodriguez

06/07/2012

10/25/2012: 46 months

27. Raul MONTENEGRO

05/03/2012

12/12/2012: 24 months

28. Favian RAMIREZ

03/28/2012

08/27/2012: 24 months

29. Francisco Chavarria TAMAYO

07/05/2012

07/25/2013: 12 months

30. Santiago Aurelio MARTINEZ

07/12/2012

12/17/2012: 46 months

31. Arturo CASTILLO‐Martinez

05/24/2012

10/25/2012: 36 months

32. Raul VASQUEZ‐Hinojosa

05/22/2012

10/15/2012: 33 months

33. Ramona ORTIZ

05/22/2012

10/15/2012: 30 months

34. Henris Osmar MERCADO

06/28/2012

11/26/2012: 63 months

35. Rene LARA

05/24/2012

09/26/2012: 96 months

36. Juan LOPEZ Jr.

09/06/2012

02/12/2014: 46 months

37. Hugo RAMIREZ‐Zapata

07/19/2012

07/29/2013: 57 months

38. Johnnie SANTOS

10/17/2012

04/09/2014: 33 months

39. Araceli TREVINO‐Rodriguez

07/05/2012

02/14/2013: 60 months

40. Damien HESLES

10/25/2012

01/28/2014: 110 months

41. Richard HESLES Jr.

10/25/2012

01/28/2014: 120 months

42. Carlo Lee REYES

10/03/2013

06/30/2014: 240 months

43. Alicia CASTANEDA

09/17/2012

06/30/2014: 33 months

44. Ismael HERNANDEZ‐Reyes

10/17/2012

04/24/2013: 37 months

45. Rolando TAMAYO

At‐Large, Failed To Appear

Fugitive

46. Erik Alan GARZA

04/25/2013

01/17/2014: 44 months

“HSI is committed to working with our state and federal law enforcement partners to dismantle and disrupt any illicit scheme involving the illegal exportation of firearms,” said Janice Ayala, Special Agent-in-Charge, HSI San Antonio. “Keeping these items out of the hands of violent cartels is a top priority for HSI.”
This case was investigated by agents with Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Protection, Texas Department of Public Safety, Bexar County Sheriff’s Department, Maverick County Sheriff’s Department, and the San Antonio Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Galdo and Bryan N. Reeves prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
2.   Marc Anthony RAMON
Updated December 15, 2014