United States Flag
Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security

Report Crimes: Email or Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE

Contraband
08/26/2009

U.S. citizen sentenced to prison for trying to smuggle a machine gun into Mexico

MCALLEN, Texas - A U.S. citizen was sentenced to nearly four years in prison Wednesday for attempting to illegally export a semi-automatic machine gun to Mexico. The sentencing was announced by acting U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson, Southern District of Texas. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) based on a seizure made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Serjio Agustin Nieto-Vazquez, 31, a U.S. citizen who previously resided in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for attempting to illegally export a machine gun that had been converted to semi-automatic operation, along with other weapons and ammunition.

Nieto-Vasquez has been in federal custody since April 27, when CBP officers working outbound inspection at the Pharr, Texas, port of entry discovered items concealed in a blanket behind the passenger seat of his pick-up. The items included a converted semi-automatic Browning M1919 machine gun and tripod, a Romanian AK-47 and 3,000 rounds of 5.7 X28 mm ammunition. Nieto admitted he was being paid $300 to smuggle the firearms into Mexico.

Nieto-Vasquez pleaded guilty in May to attempting to export defense articles on the U. S. Munitions List without obtaining a license or without written authorization in violation of the control of arms export and imports law.

ICE and CBP were assisted in this investigation by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Schammel prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.