SAN ANTONIO — A south Texas man was sentenced Tuesday to 6 ½ years in federal prison for attempting to smuggle firearms and an assortment of ammunition from the U.S. into Mexico.
This sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin, Western District of Texas. This investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Maverick County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office.
Eduardo Hinojosa, aka “Lalo,” 49, a U.S. citizen residing in Piedra Negras, Mexico, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alia Moses March 28 to 78 months in federal prison. Judge Moses also ordered Hinojosa to pay a $3,000 fine and to be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after he completes his prison term.
On Sept. 21, 2016, a federal jury convicted Hinojosa on four counts for aiding and abetting the smuggling of goods from the U.S., and one count of providing a firearm to a prohibited person. Evidence presented at trial revealed that Hinojosa and three Mexican citizens residing in Piedras Negras were involved in a firearms smuggling scheme for profit. Prior to jury selection, Hinojosa’s following two co-defendants pleaded guilty to one count of possessing a firearm by a prohibited person: Carlos Mendoza-Hernandez, 43, aka “Pepo,” and Gily Ajin-Cordova, 26; Elizabeth Cervantes-Mateos, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the smuggling of goods from the U.S. All three co-defendants were sentenced to one year in federal prison.
According to court documents, on April 7, 2015, HSI special agents observed Hinojosa loading ammunition and firearms into a vehicle at an Eagle Pass, Texas, business owned by Mendoza-Hernandez’s family. Authorities subsequently seized a .243-caliber rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition in various calibers from inside that vehicle. At the time of the seizure, authorities arrested the vehicle’s occupants — Cervantes-Mateos and Ajin-Cordova. HSI later observed defendants Hinojosa and Mendoza-Hernandez unloading boxes into a storage facility in Eagle Pass. Subsequently, authorities arrested Hinojosa and Mendoza-Hernandez, and a consensual search of that storage facility revealed about 750 rounds of shotgun shells. Testimony also revealed that the defendants were aware that the firearms and ammunition were ultimately destined for Mexico, and that the defendants were aware that it is unlawful to export those items without a license.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lewis Thomas and Dan Lee, Western District of Texas, prosecuted this case.