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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit
02/13/2014

Mexican national couple sentenced in south Texas to more than 3 years in federal for smuggling ammunition to Mexico

HARLINGEN, Texas — A couple from Mexico were sentenced Thursday to multiple years in federal prison following their convictions for illegally exporting to Mexico 98 AK-47 assault-rifle magazines and 707 rounds of associated 7.62x39mm ammunition.

This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Gregorio Rodriguez-Aranda, 25, and Maria Luisa Sanchez-Lopez, 24, appeared before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez Feb. 13. Judge Alvarez sentenced Rodriguez and Sanchez to 57 and 46 months imprisonment, respectively. The court enhanced the sentences because the couple used their 5-year-old child to commit the offense by traveling as a family unit and thereby further concealing the true unlawful purpose of the trip. Additionally, Judge Alvarez noted that Rodriguez and Sanchez, in committing this offense, have contributed to the violence in Mexico that cause so many flee to the United States. Both pleaded guilty to the ammunition-smuggling charges Nov. 25, 2013.

"Stopping the flow of ammunition and weapons illegally exported into Mexico is an urgent HSI priority," said Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala, HSI San Antonio. "By putting these weapons smugglers behind bars, law enforcement helps cut the supply of firearms before they fall into the hands of the drug cartels who pose a threat both here and abroad."

Rodriguez and Sanchez have been in custody since their arrest where they will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristen J. Rees, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.