For Immediate Release
Organizer of Firearms Trafficking Conspiracy Sent to Prison
McALLEN, Texas – A 20-year-old Pharr resident has been ordered to federal prison for organizing several individuals and having them purchase several firearms which were bound for Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Christopher Tijerina pleaded guilty July 12, 2022.
Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ordered Tijerina to serve 78 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by a three-year-term of supervised release. At the hearing, the judge noted Tijerina was a leader/organizer in the conspiracy and cited the serious nature of the conduct, the number of firearms involved and the danger they pose to the community at large. The court further stated that being a good citizen requires being good to the whole community.
“We are facing an epidemic of gun violence across our nation,” said Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “The recent surge in gun violence is driven, in part, by individuals who are illegally trafficking firearms to countries like Mexico. When you illegally buy a gun for someone else, you are committing a federal crime and ATF will continue working with our law enforcement partners to stop firearms traffickers and straw purchasers who are contributing to gun violence in our community.”
In January 2022, Tijerina coordinated an effort to obtain firearms that would then be exported to Mexico. From Jan. 31 to Feb. 9, 2022, co-conspirators successfully purchased 13 firearms. Six were 7.62mm AK-47 variant rifles, while there were five 7.62mm AK variant pistols, one .40 caliber pistol and one 9mm pistol. They also attempted to purchase three additional 7.62mm AK-47 variant rifles, but were unsuccessful.
The purchases were made from local federal firearms licensees (FFLs) located in Hidalgo County.
Tijerina, admitted he recruited individuals for the purpose of purchasing firearms for him. Those individuals were eventually charged and convicted of straw purchasing firearms as they each represented on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) form they were in fact the true buyer of the firearm when they were not.
Thus far, those co-conspirators range in age from 19 to 23 and have received sentences of up to 70 months in federal prison.
Eduardo Guajardo, 26, a U.S. citizen believed to be residing in General Bravo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and Jesus Alexis Martine, 20, Edinburg, are both considered fugitives in the case and warrants remain outstanding for their arrests. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to contact U.S. Marshals Service Enforcement Office at 956-558-6238.
Tijerina will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The ATF conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter I. Brostowin and Sarina DiPiazza prosecuted the case.