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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. Texas Woman Who Attempted to Smuggle Ammunition Into Mexico Sentenced

Texas Woman Who Attempted to Smuggle Ammunition Into Mexico Sentenced Following HSI Rio Grande Valley, Partner Investigation

Release Date: April 29, 2024

McALLEN, Texas — A Texas woman was sentenced to federal prison for attempting to smuggle thousands of rounds of ammunition into Mexico in a spare tire. The sentencing follows an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with help from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Maria Tapia-Aguilar, 52, of Channelview, was sentenced April 25 by U.S. District Judge Randy Crane to serve 51 months in federal prison immediately followed by three years of supervised release. Tapia-Aguilar pleaded guilty Feb. 28, 2022.

“HSI's dedication to this mission remains steadfast, ensuring the safety and security of communities by targeting those who engage in illicit firearms and ammunition trafficking,” said HSI San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee. “The successful outcome of the investigation exemplifies the collaborative efforts of multiple partner agencies led to the outstanding results in combating the illegal flow of ammunition and serves as a stern warning to those involved in illicit trafficking.”

According to court documents, on Nov. 6, 2019, law enforcement officials observed Tapia-Aguilar purchasing large amounts of ammunition at an Edinburg store. Afterward, she engaged in strange driving behavior and committed a traffic violation. Authorities conducted a traffic stop and discovered ammunition hidden in the vehicle’s spare tire. Tapia-Aguilar admitted to possessing 3,580 rounds of ammunition, including seven different calibers, for transport to Mexico. She also informed law enforcement officials that this was not the first time she exported ammunition to Mexico.

Tapia-Aguilar was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a federal Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

“3,500 rounds and seven different calibers — not child’s play,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. “We have laws in place for a reason, and we can never know in whose hands these items may be at any given time if people try to circumvent those rules. Exporting ammunition can be just as dangerous as the weapons themselves as it not only endangers U.S. citizens, but also puts the lives of those on both sides of our border at risk, especially if in the arms of criminals.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Cahal P. McColgan prosecuted the case.

Last Updated: 04/29/2024
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