McALLEN — When federal agents found him unloading boxes in the parking lot of a hotel in Hidalgo, the Mexican man knew he had been caught red-handed.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced 52-year-old Alejandro Cavazos-Torres to two years in federal prison. This comes months after agents found him in the parking lot of a Super 8 Hotel unloading packages containing firearm parts and accessories headed for Mexico, court records show.
According to the criminal complaint, Cavazos-Torres was arrested Oct. 14, 2016, after Homeland Security Investigations special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement interrupted him while unloading the weapons items from a vehicle he was seen driving.
What Cavazos-Torres didn’t know was that agents were aware of the packages’ contents before his arrest in the Hidalgo parking lot.
HSI special agents were surveilling Cavazos-Torres for some time, specifically after it was learned that he had purchased more than $100,000 worth of firearm components from internet-based dealers — including parts from AR-15 kits and unfinished AR-15 lower receivers, the release states.
More than a week before his arrest, the complaint states, agents executed a search warrant on the parcels he had ordered and found the elements necessary to build firearms, such as AR type accessories. They included 25 ammunition magazines,12 platform upper receivers, bolt carrier assemblies, pistol grips with trigger group components, charging handles and buttstocks with buffer tubes.
On the aforementioned date of arrest, agents observed Cavazos-Torres, who was in possession of a Visa Border Crossing card, entering the United States through the Anzalduas port of entry and making his way to Worldwide Parcel, a parcel business in Hidalgo.
Upon arriving at the business, records show that Cavazos-Torres was observed by agents taking possession of 13 parcels, loading them into the back of his vehicle and leaving the area.
Cavazos-Torres, after having just picked up the parcels, arrived at a hotel in Hidalgo, and while still in the parking lot, agents observed him unloading the packages onto a luggage cart, the complaint states.
The defendant admitted to agents that the packages were his and that they were headed to people in Mexico. A month after his arrest, Cavazos-Torres, who hails from Monterrey, Mexico, pleaded not guilty to one count of smuggling, only to change his mind in February, court documents show.
In exchange for his guilty plea, court records show that federal prosecutors agreed to reduce the final offense level of the charge.
Cavazos-Torres, who is not a U.S. citizen and is expected to be deported once he completes his sentence, will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined at a later date.