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May 26, 2021Tuscon, AZ, United StatesFirearms, Ammunition and Explosives

Ammunition smuggler sentenced to nearly 4 years in federal prison

TUCSON, Ariz. – Last week, a Mexican citizen living in Tucson was sentenced to 46 months in prison for attempting to smuggle ammunition from the United States into Mexico following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection.

Jorge Armando Lopez-Espinoza, 42, of Mexico, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Marquez. Lopez-Esponza previously pleaded guilty Nov. 25, 2020.

“HSI is firmly committed to combating the illegal smuggling of ammunition that undoubtedly is used to fuel violence both domestically and abroad,” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge for HSI Phoenix. “Together, with our law enforcement partners, we will aggressively apprehend and investigate those who attempt to circumvent our nations customs law by concealing illicit goods destined to cross our borders.”

In May 2020, Lopez-Espinoza conspired with others to smuggle 8,000 rounds of ammunition in his tractor trailer from Nogales, Arizona to Mexico. Law enforcement agents intercepted the shipments of ammunition before Lopez-Espinoza acquired them. On May 14, 2020, Lopez-Espinoza picked up the boxes he believed contained the 8,000 rounds of ammunition, hid them in his tractor trailer, and attempted to enter Mexico through the Nogales Port of Entry. Lopez-Espinoza later admitted he believed he was smuggling ammunition in the boxes, expected to be paid for doing so, and had previously smuggled ammunition into Mexico in exchange for payment.

Angela W. Woolridge, assistant U.S. attorney, District of Arizona, Tucson handled the prosecution.

As the primary federal law enforcement agency responsible for investigating international smuggling operations and enforcing U.S. export laws, HSI is committed to combating illegal firearms, ammunition and explosives smuggling activities that fuel violence both domestically and abroad. HSI fulfills this commitment by relying on the agency’s extensive legal authorities and unique expertise in conducting illegal export and contraband smuggling investigations.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.