GULFPORT, Miss. — A resident of Winston-Salem, N.C., pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to conspiring to smuggle munitions to Mexico, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Jackson County Criminal Interdiction Team and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Jose Luis Santos-Garcia, 44, a legal permanent resident of the United States and citizen of Mexico, was stopped on I-10 westbound in Jackson County, Aug. 31 with two concealed handguns and three flak jackets. On Nov.1 his co-conspirator, Javier Molina, a U.S. citizen, was stopped westbound on I-10 in Jackson County, with eight pistols, nine rifles, five shotguns, 16 magazines, six gun stocks, five shotgun barrels, two scopes and 902 rounds of ammunition.
"By breaking the export laws of the United States, this defendant and his co-conspirator could have endangered the lives of countless people once these weapons reached the black market in Mexico," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr, special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. "This case is a direct result of HSI, the Jackson County Criminal Interdiction Team and the ATF working together to promote public safety not only here in the United States, but also in foreign lands." Parmer oversees HSI activities for the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.
Both defendants will be sentenced August 2, 2012, and face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis, Southern District of Mississippi, praised the efforts of the officers from HSI, the Jackson County Criminal Interdiction Team, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who investigated the case, and Assistant United States Attorney Annette Williams who prosecuted the case.