Man who smuggled nearly 200 firearms into Mexico gets 27 months

Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro -
December 2, 2019

McALLEN — A Mexican national who lied on federal firearms forms in order to sneak weapons into Mexico was handed a 27-month prison sentence, records show.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Jose Omar Garza to more than two years in prison for his role in a scheme to smuggle firearms into Mexico from the United States, according to a criminal complaint filed in June.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers notified agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in June of Garza’s attempt to enter the U.S. at the Falcon Dam port of entry, the complaint stated. This led to Garza’s arrest.

ATF agents learned that in January of this year, Garza had legally purchased several firearms in Hidalgo, Starr and Webb counties, and a total of 186 firearms since September 2015, records show.

Agents reviewed several forms Garza had filled out when he purchased the firearms, known as “ATF Form 4473.”

In the aforementioned forms, Garza had used a Houston address agents later determined to be false, which is a violation of federal firearms laws.

During an interrogation after his June arrest, Garza admitted he had purchased four small caliber pistols for a man named “Pelon” on Jan. 24.

“Additionally, Garza admitted that he had been residing in Mexico for approximately one year. Garza further stated he did not live at the residence located in Houston, TX when he filled out question #2 on the ATF Form 4473, which asks the purchaser to state their current state of residence and address, when (Garza) purchased the aforementioned firearms on January 24, 2019,” the complaint read.

In August, the 36-year-old Mexican man pleaded guilty to one of the two charges of importing/manufacturing weapons, and in exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining charge against him at the time of his sentencing.

Weapons like the ones involved in this case, purchased legally and illegally in the U.S. are often smuggled into Mexico and end up in the hands of criminals, exacerbating the violence perpetrated by drug cartel organizations as a result of the drug trade.

Garza, who does not have legal status to be in the U.S., will not be required to serve supervised release and will likely be deported upon completion of his 27-month prison sentence.