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June 7, 2023Nogales, AZ, United StatesFirearms, Ammunition and Explosives

HSI Nogales investigation sends firearms and ammunition smuggler to prison for 51 months

NOGALES, Ariz. — A federal judge sentenced Miguel Armando Castro, of Phoenix, to 51 months in prison followed by supervised release for attempting to smuggle firearms and ammunition into Mexico. The judge also ordered him to pay a $100 special assessment. Castro pleaded guilty to smuggling goods from the United States following a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) probe.

“HSI is committed to aggressively investigating and disrupting smuggling activity,” said HSI Arizona Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown. “We are particularly successful because HSI leverages resources to target and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and to ensure success, we are firmly committed to working in close cooperation with our law enforcements partners to curb smuggling activity on the border.”

On Jan. 19, 2022, Castro attempted to exit the United States into Mexico in a vehicle lane at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales. Castro was the driver and sole occupant of a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials had received alerts on the Silverado and Castro related to a prior ammunition smuggling incident. Upon initial inspection of the Silverado, officers found a bag on the front seat containing a loaded .22-caliber revolver. While inspecting the vehicle, they found two high-capacity Glock firearm magazines, four regular-capacity Glock firearm magazines, and one .22-caliber Walther firearm magazine.

The firearm, ammunition and magazines Castro intended to export to Mexico are designated on the U.S. Commerce Control List as prohibited for export from the United States into Mexico without a valid license. Castro did not have a license or any other lawful authority to export any of the items from the United States into Mexico.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon Bolling and Austin Fenwick of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona in Tucson prosecuted the case.

HSI is 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 more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 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.