GULFPORT, Miss. – Two North Carolina men have been sentenced to federal prison sentences for attempting to export arms and ammunition to Mexico, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Jackson County Interdiction Team.
Jose Luis Santos-Garcia, 44, of Winston-Salem, N.C., was sentenced to 97 months Tuesday and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and serve three years of post-release supervision following his release from prison. Javier Molina, 19, of Greensboro, N.C., was also sentenced Tuesday to 50 months, a $3,000 fine and three years of post-release supervision for his role in the attempt.
"Stopping the flow of weapons into Mexico is a key priority for HSI and our partners," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. "These defendants were seeking to add to the bloodshed in Mexico by unlawfully smuggling weapons there for their personal enrichment. Thanks to HSI, the Jackson County Interdiction Team and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, their criminal activity was stopped and both defendants will serve lengthy sentences in a federal penitentiary." Parmer oversees HSI activities in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.
Santos-Garcia was first indicted Nov. 15, 2011, with conspiracy to smuggle firearms, along with co-defendant Molina. The indictment was superseded Feb. 23 to include violation of the Arms Export Act which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000. Santos-Garcia, a legal permanent resident of the United States and citizen of Mexico, was stopped on I-10 westbound in Jackson County, Aug. 31, 2011, with two concealed handguns and three flak jackets. On Nov. 1, 2011, Molina was stopped westbound on I-10 in Jackson County with eight pistols, nine rifles, five shotguns, 16 magazines, six gun stocks, five shotgun barrels, two scopes and 902 rounds of ammunition. Molina was arrested on a federal complaint Nov. 1, 2011; Santos-Garcia was arrested in North Carolina on a federal complaint Nov. 4, 2011, and returned to the Southern District of Mississippi for prosecution.