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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit
02/04/2013

Southwest Texas man extradited from Mexico for smuggling defense articles

DEL RIO, Texas — An Eagle Pass, Texas, man appeared Monday in San Antonio federal court following his extradition from Mexico Friday on federal charges of smuggling prohibited defense articles.

This extradition and criminal charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman, Western District of Texas, and Deputy Special Agent in Charge Monica Mapel, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Antonio.

A federal grand jury in Del Rio returned an indictment in June 2012 against Erik Alan Garza, 25, on six counts of aiding and abetting smuggling goods from the United States. According to the indictment, on various occasions between June 19, 2010 and Feb. 17, 2012, Garza and an accomplice, Rolando Tamayo, 32, also of Eagle Pass, illegally attempted to smuggle defense articles into Mexico from the United States.

These defense items included: night-vision monocular goggles, a thermal goggle, 400 sets of AR-15 front and rear flip-up tactical sights, about 5,000 high-capacity assault rifle magazines, and about 6,000 rounds of ammunition, including 100 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition.

The indictment also charges Tamayo, who remains a fugitive, with two counts of aiding and abetting the smuggling of goods from the United States. Each charge calls for a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison upon conviction.

"Gun and drug trafficking fuels violence by criminal organizations, and threatens the security of the people along our borders and throughout the country," said Mapel. "HSI special agents will continue to work jointly with our law enforcement partners to utilize our expertise in import and export enforcement to help keep our citizens safe and secure."

This case was investigated by special agents with HSI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, and the U.S. Marshals Service assisted with Garza's extradition.

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.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Galdo, Western District of Texas, prosecuted the case.