BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Two additional people were each sentenced March 14 to more than three years in federal prison following their conviction of conspiracy to purchase and smuggle to Mexico an M203 grenade launcher and three semi-automatic rifles.
This sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick, Southern District of Texas. This case was investigated by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Dulce Maria Rippstine, 38 from San Juan, Texas, and Juan Martin Segura-Olvera, 57, from Reynosa, Mexico, appeared before U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera March 14 where both were sentenced to prison. Judge Olvera ordered Rippstine to serve 37 months in federal prison and two years of supervised release. Segura-Olvera was ordered to serve 50 months imprisonment. Because Segura-Olvera is an illegal alien, after he completes his prison sentence, he will be transferred to ICE custody to be placed in removal proceedings. The court acknowledged Rippstine's and Segura-Olvera's similar roles in the offense, but considered their actions as well as the actions of the other co-defendants.
According to court documents, beginning of fall 2016, purchasers located in Mexico had negotiated the sale of a grenade launcher and three assault rifles with undercover federal agents who were posing as black-market arms dealers. Acting on behalf of the purchasers in Reynosa, Rippstine and Segura met with the special agents on Feb. 7, 2017, in Los Fresnos, Texas. Following the purchase, Rippstine and Segura were to act as the munitions transporter to facilitate smuggling the weapons into Mexico.
Oscar Fredy Garcia, 31, of Reynosa, and Jorge Cortez-Trujillo, 42, of Veracruz, Mexico, were also members of the conspiracy. Garcia had been living illegally in the United States when he arrived in Los Fresnos on Feb. 7, 2017. In his possession was $5,000 to pay for the previously negotiated exchange. Cortez-Trujillo also illegally entered the United States prior to Feb. 7, 2017. His role was to inspect the grenade launcher and other munitions to insure the quality for the buyer in Mexico.
Rippstine travelled to Reynosa to pick up Segura-Olvera before returning to the United States to meet at the predetermined location on Feb. 7. After an initial meet-and-greet, money was exchanged and Cortez-Trujillo inspected the grenade launcher, commenting that he was familiar with the weapon and was ex-Mexican military. He also stated that ammunition for the weapon was available
in Mexico and that he had crossed these weapons previously. After he completed the inspection, Cortez-Trujillo directed the agents to load the munitions into the backseat of Rippstine's vehicle. At that time, all four men were taken into custody. Garcia and Cortez-Trujillo were each sentenced to five years in prison for their role in the conspiracy in 2017.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Corley, Southern District of Texas is prosecuting the case.