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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. South Texas Woman Sentenced for Weapons Cache Exportation

South Texas Woman Sentenced for Weapons Cache Exportation Following HSI Rio Grande Valley, Federal Partner Investigation

Release Date: April 19, 2024

McALLEN, Texas — A South Texas woman was sentenced to federal prison for attempting to exit the country with three dozen AK-47 and AR-15 rifles and other weapons and ammunition following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with help from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Jessica Alvarado, 33, of San Juan, was sentenced April 18 by U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez to serve 46 months in federal prison immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard that these types of weapons typically end up in the hands of cartel members in Mexico and about the dangers associated with their use. Prosecutors also noted that at the time of the offense, Alvarado admitted to dealing cocaine on several occasions. In handing down the sentence, the judge noted the dangers associated with these firearms. Alvarado pleaded guilty Jan. 25.

“Drugs and guns are a deadly combination,” said HSI San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee. “This sentencing serves as a warning to those who attempt to export weapons into Mexico and distribute highly addictive narcotics like cocaine. HSI will aggressively pursue violators and hold them accountable. This investigation demonstrates the strength of collaborative law enforcement efforts in the Rio Grande Valley and our strong partnership with the U.S. attorney’s office.”

“Alvarado tried to sneak dangerous weapons across our southern border, which could have had devastating effects,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. “This sentence should serve as a warning — put guns in the hands of others illegally and pay a hefty price with your freedom. An AK-47 or AR-15 doesn’t belong in the hands of a criminal.”

According to court documents, on Jan. 31, 2023, Alvarado attempted to depart the United States through the Hidalgo Port of Entry driving a Ford F-150. At the time, she denied having any firearms. However, authorities noticed the bed of the pickup truck was abnormally elevated and referred the vehicle to secondary inspection. A search resulted in the discovery of 33 AK-47 variant rifles, three AR-15 rifles, a .22-caliber long rifle, two .45-caliber handguns and 39 ammunition magazines. She did not possess a license to export firearms from the United States.

The investigation led to a search at her residence in San Juan, where law enforcement officials also found approximately 499 grams of a packaged white, powdery substance that tested positive for the characteristics of cocaine and more than $13,000 in bulk U.S. currency.

Alvarado was permitted to remain on bond and will surrender at a later date to serve her sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Southern District of Texas Lee Fry and Cahal P. McColgan prosecuted the case.

Last Updated: 04/22/2024
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