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March 27, 2012Tucson, AZUnited StatesNarcotics

'Border bandits' sentenced to 5 years in federal prison

TUCSON, Ariz. – Two Mexican "border bandits" caught carrying an assault rifle in the mountains of southern Arizona were each sentenced to five years in federal prison Tuesday on charges stemming from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Nogales with assistance from the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector.

Javier Hernandez-Ramirez, 29, of Michoacan, Mexico, and Edgardo Alvarez-Mendivil, 36, of Sinaloa, Mexico, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge David C. Bury to 60 months of imprisonment after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

"Mexican drug smuggling organizations sometimes use bandit crews to police their desert smuggling routes and rob from competitors," said Kevin Kelly, assistant special agent in charge of HSI Nogales. "Thanks to great teamwork with our Border Patrol partners and federal prosecutors, we were able to take these two bandits out of the desert and put them in prison."

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Tucson Sector Border Patrol Tactical Unit encountered the defendants June 28 in the Sierrita Mountains near Sahuarita. The defendants were carrying a loaded AK-47 assault rifle and bullet proof vest. After their arrests, both defendants admitted to HSI Nogales special agents that they intended to rob groups of drug smugglers carrying backpacks of marijuana through the Arizona desert.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Arturo Aguilar of the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona, Tucson.

Updated: 12/09/2014