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07/20/2011

Tucson man sentenced to more than 5 years for smuggling ammunition

TUCSON, Ariz. — A Tucson man found guilty of attempting to smuggle more than 9,000 rounds of ammunition into Mexico was sentenced to 63 months in prison Wednesday following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jesus Francisco Lopez, 35, was convicted following a jury trial April 21. Evidence at the trial showed that between October 2009 and December 2010, Lopez purchased several hundred thousand rounds of various calibers of ammunition. On December 28, 2010, two Mexican citizens entered the United States in a van and drove to Tucson where they met with Lopez. Lopez led them to his home where the three loaded 9,000 rounds of ammunition into the vehicle, concealing it in the van's engine compartment.

A short time later, the two Mexican nationals were stopped as they drove the van back toward Mexico. Federal agents searched the vehicle and discovered the 9,000 rounds of ammunition hidden under the hood. The two Mexican citizens, who were also charged in this case, pleaded guilty and are now serving prison sentences.

A subsequent search of Lopez's house resulted in the recovery of an additional 19,750 rounds of ammunition, which was to be picked up and transported to Mexico the following day. The evidence introduced at trial established that – despite his denials – Lopez was aware the ammunition was destined for Mexico.

The investigation leading to the guilty verdict was conducted by HSI with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.