For Immediate Release
U.S. Weapons Smuggler Sent to Prison
LAREDO, Texas – A 24-year-old U.S. citizen and resident of Nuevo Laredo has been ordered to federal prison for attempting to smuggle more than a dozen firearms, scopes and ammunition magazines to Mexico, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. Iram Abel Buentello pleaded guilty March 31, 2017.
Today, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana sentenced Buentello to 51 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard that weapons smuggled to Mexico often end up in the hands of violent international cartels. The government also contended that the type of weapons Buentello smuggled, such as high-powered rifles, can cause tremendous loss of life. In handing down the sentence, the court described the case as “a very serious matter.” The court further recognized the ongoing violence in Mexico and how Buentello’s conduct only “adds fuel to the fire.”
On Feb. 1, 2017, Buentello climbed inside of a pickup truck parked in downtown Laredo which had a cache of high-powered weapons concealed in the truck’s bed. Buentello drove the truck to the Lincoln Juarez Bridge II in Laredo and attempted to exit the United States into Mexico.
At the bridge, he told U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers that he had no weapons to declare. CBP officers searched the truck and found a non-factory compartment in the truck bed containing five rifles, two shotguns, six handguns, six magazines and four scopes. Several of the weapons had been reported stolen. Buentello falsely claimed that he picked the truck up at a family member’s house and came to Laredo to shop. He had no license, permit or authorization to export the weapons to Mexico.
He has been and will remain in federal custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation with the assistance of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Howard prosecuted the case.