El Paso, Texas — A former local businessman was sentenced Wednesday to two years in federal prison, and will forfeit thousands of dollars and about $1 million in military and law enforcement equipment for his role in a scheme to smuggle ammunition and other prohibited items into Mexico.
Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case.
Hector Ayala, 49, former owner of Uniforms of Texas, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release after his prison term, and to perform 200 hours of community service.
U.S. District Judge David Briones ordered Ayala to pay a $200,000 monetary judgment, and to forfeit to the government 8,600 rounds of ammunition, $103,000 cash and about $1 million in military and law enforcement equipment seized by HSI special agents during this investigation.
In December 2012, Ayala pleaded guilty to facilitating the smuggling of goods from the United States. By pleading guilty, Ayala admitted that from Sept. 1, 2009 to Dec. 3, 2011, he concealed and facilitated the transportation of multiple calibers and quantities of ammunition. He also transported about 300 high-capacity ammunition magazines and drums, and about 800 ballistic vests with ceramic plates knowing that the items were intended to be exported to Mexico.
Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso, said this case represents a core HSI mission, which is to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations.
“Our special agents are charged with investigating and arresting individuals who threaten national security and public safety by violating U.S. laws,” said Ulrich. “Successfully prosecuting criminals who illegally export weapons and ammunition to Mexico also helps secure our border.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the El Paso Police Department Stash House Unit, also assisted in the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McDonald, Western District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
HSI encourages the public to report any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. The online tip form may be accessed at this link: http://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form.