McALLEN — A male Mexican national will serve more than three years in prison for his role in a firearms conspiracy.
On Friday U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Salvador Calvillo-Ramirez, the third and final defendant involved in a conspiracy to smuggle firearms and ammunition into Mexico, to 39 months in prison.
Calvillo-Ramirez, who was emotional during his sentencing hearing in front of Crane, apologized to the court and his family, while explaining that financial hardships led him to smuggle weapons into Mexico.
During the hearing, Calvillo-Ramirez asked for leniency, saying his family had to leave their home after receiving threats from his former associates, which led him to take the government’s plea deal and to stop identifying others involved in the conspiracy.
The 29-year-old man said he had a steady job in Mexico for the better part of a decade, but that from “one day to the next,” he found himself out of work with mounting debts.
Federal agents arrested Calvillo-Ramirez on Sept. 29, 2017, during what was later determined to be an attempt to smuggle weapons and ammunition through Hidalgo’s port of entry, according to the criminal complaint.
During a secondary inspection of the man’s vehicle, agents found two semi-automatic type rifles, a 9 mm pistol, about 87 rifle magazines and almost 3,455 rounds of ammunition hidden inside a speaker box, the complaint states.
“Calvillo admitted he traveled from Mexico into the United States to procure the firearms, ammunition, and rifle magazines found within (Calvillo’s) vehicle,” the complaint states.
The Altamira native also admitted to agents that he had successfully smuggled guns and ammunition from the U.S. into Mexico several times in the past.
His sentencing is the third related to the case after Jesus Alonso Perez and Gabriela Hinojosa-De Leon had received their respective sentencings last week.
Perez, 35, and Hinojosa-De Leon, 40, both of Mission, were given 70- and 12-month sentences, respectively.
In all, the court said at least 50 firearms, some of which were recovered by federal agents in Mexico, were involved with the case.
Perez admitted to selling Calvillo-Ramirez the aforementioned seized items and to selling him 25 to 30 firearms and other ammunition “within the past several months.”
Hinojosa-De Leon was given a reduced sentence because the court determined she was a minor participant in the conspiracy after federal agents found 40 rounds of ammunition at her McAllen residence.
Calvillo-Ramirez, Perez and Hinojosa-De Leon all pleaded guilty to their respective charges in April, court records show.