For Immediate Release
El Paso Federal Grand Jury Charges Two in Connection with Ammunition Smuggling Scheme
This afternoon, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging two El Paso residents for scheming to smuggle thousands of rounds of ammunition into the Republic of Mexico announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge William A. Temple, Dallas Field Division.
The three-count federal indictment charges Sofia Acosta de Caballero, age 34, and Edward Navarro, age 29, with one count of conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States. Acosta is also charged with two substantive counts of smuggling goods from the United States. Navarro is also charged with one substantive count of smuggling goods from the United States.
The indictment alleges that from January 2015 until January 2016, the defendants conspired to purchase approximately 80,000 rounds of assorted caliber ammunition on the Internet with the understanding and purpose that this ammunition was to be exported to Mexico. The conspiracy charge also alleges that the defendants purchased several firearms with the understanding and purpose that these firearms were to be exported to Mexico.
On January 13, 2016, federal authorities at the Bridge of Americas Port of Entry in El Paso seized approximately 4,550 rounds of .38 caliber ammunition discovered inside a car being driven by Acosta. At the time, Acosta was also in possession of a Ruger Model Mini 14 magazine.
Acosta has remained in federal custody since January 13, 2016. Navarro is considered a fugitive.
Waldemar Rodriguez, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso, said HSI will continue to pursue those who present a threat to our national security. “HSI works aggressively to identify and investigate individuals tied to transnational criminal organizations who attempt to export weapons and ammunition,” said Rodriguez. “HSI and our law enforcement partners are committed to uphold the exportation laws of the United States to ensure that U.S. weapons don't end up in the wrong hands.”
William A. Temple, special agent in charge of the ATF Dallas Field Division, said, “The indictments rendered today are yet another successful example of law enforcement agencies collaborating to combat violent crime. ATF actively works alongside our law enforcement partners to provide investigative expertise and guidance in all firearms and ammunition related investigations.”
Upon conviction of the conspiracy charge, the defendants face up to five years in federal prison. Each substantive firearms charge calls for up to ten years in federal prisonupon conviction.
This indictment resulted from an investigation conducted by the Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with assistance from the United States Customs and Border Protection. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael C. Williams and Steven Spitzer are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
HSI encourages the public to report any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.