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March 27, 2024McAllen, TX, United StatesFirearms, Ammunition and Explosives

HSI Rio Grande Valley, federal partner investigation results in the guilty plea of a Mexican resident for trying to smuggle ammunition and firearms back to Mexico

MCALLEN, Texas –A Mexican resident pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle multiple firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in a vehicle roof rack following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Jose De Jesus Pena Dieguez, 67, from Guadalajara, Mexico, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Chief Judge Randy Crane, who accepted his plea.

“Dieguez potentially put lives at risk for his own personal gain, intending to profit by selling firearms illegally smuggled out of the United States,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Alamdar Hamdani. “These crimes not only affect our residents, but they also endanger innocent Mexican citizens. It’s an international issue, and we remain relentless in our efforts to bring safety and security in taking these traffickers off the streets. Put simply, try to take guns to Mexico and you will pay for it with your freedom.”

According to court documents, on Jan. 11, Dieguez attempted to enter Mexico through the Progreso Port of Entry in a Nissan Xterra. Upon inspection, authorities noticed tampering of the screws on a compartment connected to the vehicle's roof rack. An X-ray examination also showed anomalies within the compartment. A subsequent search revealed 16 firearms, 31 firearm magazines, assorted firearm parts and 800 rounds of ammunition.

Dieguez admitted he purchased the firearms and intended to illegally export them to Mexico.

Chief Judge Randy Crane will impose sentencing June 11. At that time, Dieguez faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

He remains in custody pending that hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cahal P. McColgan, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of 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.