For Immediate Release
Miami Men to be Sentenced for Weapons Smuggling
Miami, Florida – Compressed air tanks most commonly are used for filling tires, but Jorge Chica-Giler, 28, found a different use for them—smuggling weapons from Miami to Ecuador. He pled guilty August 29 in Fort Pierce U.S. District Court.
During the hearing before U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez, Chica-Giler admitted he conspired to deal in, and smuggle, firearms out of the United States by directing co-conspirators to purchase firearms on his behalf, and by directing co-defendants Rolando Alexei Pupo-Abrahantes and Nicolas Ayala to hide them inside compressed air tanks for shipment to a co-conspirator in Ecuador. Chica-Giler admitted to making eight such shipments, totaling at least 35 firearms, to include several assault-rifles.
They concealed the weapons by taking two 11-gallon tanks, cutting an end off each one, and placing the shrink-wrapped firearms inside. Pupo-Abrahantes then welded the two tanks together to form one 22-gallon tank and concealed the modification by painting the tanks with black spray paint.
Surveillance footage from August 2021 placed Chica-Giler at a Harbor Freight store in Miami. This footage is consistent with the time he purchased other supplies needed for the transport, to include the air tanks, one masonry cutting wheel, and one welding blanket.
Soon after, law enforcement witnessed Chica-Giler and a co-conspirator drop two packages off at a freight forwarding service in Miami. Agents seized and x-rayed the packages pursuant to border search authority, which revealed hidden firearms.
Chica-Giler pled guilty to one count of conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; one count of dealing in firearms without a license, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 922(a)(1)(A); one count of smuggling firearms from the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 554; one count of delivery of a firearm to a common carrier without written notification, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(e); and one count of possession of a firearm by an unlawful alien, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(5)(B).
Chica-Giler’s sentencing is scheduled for November 7 at 2:30 p.m. before Judge Martinez. He faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison. The judge will consider U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors prior to issuing any sentence.
Co-defendants Pupo-Abrahantes and Ayala pled guilty for their role in the weapons transport.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Christopher A. Robinson, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office; and Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
HSI Fort Pierce and ATF Fort Pierce investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher Hudock and Justin Hoover are prosecuting the case.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 21-cr-14035.