McALLEN — A Pharr man will spend four years in federal prison for attempting to smuggle ammunition into Mexico last April, court records show.
Juan Carrillo Jr. was sentenced Monday before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on Monday in connection with an attempt to drive into Mexico while concealing rifle magazines and approximately 3,000 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle last year, according to court records.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers detained Carrillo, who was driving a Volkswagen sedan with Tamaulipas Mexican plates, April 21, 2018, after referring him for a secondary inspection at the Anzalduas port of entry in Mission.
During his attempt to enter Mexico, Carrillo told officers he did not have any weapons, ammunition, or currency exceeding $10,000 — and that he was traveling into Reynosa, Mexico to visit his father.
But, according to the complaint filed against him, CBP officers noticed what appeared to be “inconsistencies” under the sedan’s floor mats, prompting the secondary inspection.
During a subsequent search of the Volkswagen, CBP officers discovered 168 rifle magazines and approximately 3,000 rounds of ammunition used for assault rifle firearms within the vehicle’s engine compartment, underneath the passenger and driver’s side seats.
In an interview with U.S. Homeland Security agents, Carrillo admitted to being aware of the rifle magazines and ammunition in the vehicle.
The 30-year-old man originally pleaded not guilty to a smuggling goods charge on May 16, 2018, court records show.
But Carrillo, just a month later, accepted a government plea agreement, and pleaded true to the smuggling charge on June, 18, 2018. In addition, he agreed to forfeit the rifle magazines and ammunition to the government, the plea agreement stated.
In exchange, government prosecutors agreed to drop the offense by two levels, which could have resulted in a longer punishment range.
According to reporting from the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, the U.S. Government Accountability Office noted that between 2009 and 2014, the majority of the guns recovered in Mexico originally bought in the U.S. came from three southern border states, with Texas accounting for 41 percent of those weapons.
The Center for American Progress also reported that from 2014 to 2016, more than 33,000 U.S.-sourced guns were recovered in criminal investigations in Mexico.
“That exceeds the number of crime guns recovered and traced to a U.S. source in every U.S. state during the same period — except for California, Florida, and Texas,” the 2018 report read.
In addition to the 48-month sentence, Carrillo will be required to serve three years of supervised release upon his completion of the prison term, court notes showed.