A 32-year-old U.S. citizen has pleaded guilty to smuggling goods from the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Jesus Alberto Olivarez admitted to attempting to export 5,680 rounds of assorted pistol ammunition.
“All too often, the smuggling of illegal firearms and ammunition to Mexico is used to fuel a scourge of violence that threatens law enforcement and security officials, as well as the communities they serve,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “To protect our law enforcement partners and the people of both our nations, the Justice Department will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to stop those who would traffic illegal guns and ammunition to Mexico.”
“Olivarez was about to drive into Mexico with almost 6,000 rounds of live ammunition until the expertise and keen ear of a law enforcement officer thwarted his plan,” said Hamdani. “Stopping the illegal flow of firearms and ammunition into Mexico saves lives and will always be a priority of the Southern District of Texas and our local, state and federal law enforcement partners.”
On Feb. 27, Olivarez drove his black PT Cruiser to the Lincoln Juarez International Bridge on his way home to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Authorities noted one of the vehicle’s doors rattled as if something was hidden in it and seemed unusually heavy.
A subsequent search of all four of the Cruiser’s door panels yielded a total of 5,680 live rounds of pistol ammunition in assorted calibers – 3,600 rounds of .40 caliber S&W, 900 rounds of .380 caliber, 900 rounds of .45 caliber, 100 rounds of 9-millimeter and 180 rounds of .38 SPL +P ammunition.
Olivarez admitted he had agreed to smuggle the ammunition into Mexico and had just received the ammunition a few hours prior. He personally hid the ammunition throughout the vehicle’s door and rear panels.
U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo will impose sentencing Aug. 9. At that time, Olivarez faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
He has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assigned to the HSI-Laredo Border Enforcement Task Force, working in coordination with the Laredo Police Department’s Texas Anti-Gang Unit, conducted the investigation with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorney Homero Ramirez is prosecuting the case.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program. In May 2021, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a new effort to reduce violent crime, including the gun violence that is often at its core. Integral to that effort was the reinvigoration of PSN, a two-decade old, evidence-based and community-oriented program focused on reducing violent crime. The updated PSN approach, outlined in the department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime is guided by four key principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results of our efforts. The fundamental goal is to reduce violent crime, not simply to increase the number of arrests or prosecutions.