© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas man sentenced for smuggling more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition into Mexico

A hunting rifle lies on a table.
Marius Bulling
DPA Picture Alliance
A hunting rifle lies on a table.

Get TPR's best stories of the day and a jump start to the weekend with the 321 Newsletter — straight to your inbox every day. Sign up for it here.

Hugo Medina of Del Rio, Texas, attempted to cross the International bridge into Ciudad Acuña in September 2020 when he was pulled over by Border Patrol agents for an inspection. They found a black duffel bag in his vehicle containing 10,498 rounds of ammunition.

Almost two years later, he's been sentenced to 57 months plus time served.

Claudia Veronica Flores purchased the ammunition and arranged for it to be smuggled into Mexico. Flores pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States. Her sentencing is scheduled for December.

Prosecuting this kind of case has become a priority for the Justice Department because most of the violence in Mexico is carried out with guns that were bought in the U.S. legally and then smuggled southbound.

“Transporting ammunition into Mexico is a serious offense,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “Along with our law enforcement partners, my office is committed to stopping the supply of dangerous weapons across the border into Mexico.”

Caliber 60, a limited series podcast about the flow of avocados, guns and people, drops on March 15th. Subscribe to Caliber 60 to follow Linda’s story.

Congress passed a law last year that created a stand-alone gun trafficking chargepunishable by up to 15 years in prison. More than 100 people have already been prosecuted under the new law, which was the first major change to U.S. gun laws in decades.

The 2022 law also gave more resources to law enforcement to intercept guns from the U.S. before they get to the cartels.

“Through collaborative law enforcement with our federal, state and local partners, we aggressively investigate individuals involved in these activities to prevent the items from falling into the hands of transnational criminal organizations," said Craig Larrabee, the special agent in charge with the Homeland Security Investigations San Antonio Division. “The sentencing sends a clear message to individuals who facilitate the illegal sale and movement of ammunition: Combating ammunition smuggling is a top priority for Homeland Security Investigations.”

The Mexican government filed a $10 billion lawsuit against U.S. gunmakers and sellers in 2021 and said their business practices have led to an influx of weapons into the hands of cartels. It was dismissed last year by a federal judge in Massachusetts, but the Mexican government filed an appeal in March.

About 500,000 weapons are smuggled across the border each year, according to the suit.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.