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Firearms, Ammunition & Explosives

Firearms smuggler sentenced to more than 3 years in federal prison

MCALLEN, Texas - A U.S. citizen living in Mexico, who conspired with others to smuggle semi-automatic firearms and ammunition into Mexico, was sentenced to three years and four months in federal prison May 13. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa sentenced Juan Sauceda, 29, a resident of Reynosa, Mexico, to 40 months in federal prison without parole for conspiring to unlawfully export weapons to Mexico. Sauceda pleaded guilty on Feb. 8 to the federal felony offense, admitting to having agreed with others to export into Mexico 10 semi-automatic firearms, magazines and ammunition without the necessary license or authorization.

Sauceda was arrested on Nov. 23 after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting southbound inspections at the Hidalgo, Texas, port of entry found and seized 10 semi-automatic firearms (including several .223-caliber Sig Sauer assault rifles), 87 high-capacity magazines, and 1,570 rounds of 7.62x39mm ammunition concealed in the vehicle Sauceda was driving. This arms seizure led to the federal charges and to Sauceda's conviction. ICE HSI special agents conducted the investigation with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Sauceda has been in federal custody since his November 2010 arrest. He will remain in custody pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility where he will serve out his sentence. After he completes his prison term, the court has further ordered Sauceda to serve a two-year-term of supervised release. As a convicted felon, Sauceda will be prohibited by law from possessing firearms or ammunition.

Assistant U.S. Attorney, Christopher Sully, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.