McALLEN — When U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers looked inside an ice chest in the back of Guadalupe Horacio Garza-Cavazos’ pickup truck, they didn’t find ice-cold beverages.
Instead CBP officers discovered six pistols, more than 10 magazines and 60 rounds of ammunition, as Garza-Cavazos attempted to enter Mexico through the Falcon Port of Entry in Falcon Heights.
CBP officers working the outbound lane at the Falcon Dam International Port of Entry inspected Garza-Cavazos’ pickup truck on March 15. The 56-year-old man, who hails from the Houston area and was traveling with his wife and another man, allowed for a search of his vehicle, which included the bed of the truck.
Along with the aforementioned ice box, the man also had a fridge, washer, dryer and other miscellaneous items in the bed of the vehicle.
CBP officers inspected the 152-quart ice box, which contained several boxes of soft drinks, including a box of a 24-pack of Coca-Cola located at the bottom.
But instead of finding soda cans, CBP officers found that the box contained several packages wrapped in aluminum foil.
CBP officers discovered six different types of automatic and semi-automatic pistols, two boxes containing 20 rounds of .308 caliber ammunition, a box containing 20 rounds of 30-30 caliber bullets, and 12 pistol magazines, the complaint stated.
After the discovery, Garza-Cavazos was detained and subsequently spoke with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents.
Garza-Cavazos, a Mexican national, told agents that the day before, an unidentified man had approached him as he sat outside his home on his porch. The man said he knew one of Garza-Cavazos’ friends.
He said the man asked if Garza-Cavazos could transport three boxes of Coca-Cola to Villa Santiago, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, in exchange for $20.
The unknown man told Garza-Cavazos that someone would pick up the contents of the box the following day in Villa Santiago, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
“Garza-Cavazos stated that at approximately 8:00 P.M., he loaded the ice chest in the bed of the Dodge Ram and added more items inside the ice chest,” the complaint read. “Garza-Cavazos stated that the ice chest has always remained outside his house along with items he was going to take to Mexico.”
He said he did not physically inspect the Coca-Cola boxes, even though he stated he had previously been arrested in Mexico for transporting weapons and ammunition that were found inside a washing machine.
Last week, Garza-Cavazos, stood before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez and pleaded true to the only charge against him related to the incident, smuggling goods into the United States, court records show.
He will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which is set for Aug. 15, court records show.
Weapons and ammunition, like the ones involved in this case, purchased legally and illegally in the U.S., are often smuggled into Mexico and end up in the hands of criminals, exacerbating the violence perpetrated by drug cartel organizations as a result of the drug trade.