Texan convicted of attempting to export firearms, magazines and ammunition | USAO-SDTX

LAREDO, Texas – A Laredo federal jury has convicted a 64-year-old man for attempting to export firearms, firearm magazines and thousands of rounds of ammunition to Mexico, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

The jury deliberated for less than six hours before convicting Jose Rafael Vasquez, Dallas, following a two-day trial.

On Oct. 15, 2020, Vasquez attempted to exit the United States into Mexico through the Laredo Port of Entry. The jury heard that he was driving a tan 2007 Chevrolet Suburban. During initial inspection, law enforcement discovered suspicious bundles zip-tied to the undercarriage of the vehicle. They appeared to contain ammunition.

A further inspection revealed three AK-47 rifles, eight semi-automatic handguns of various calibers, 16 handgun magazines and approximately 4,714 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition hidden inside his vehicle. Several of the handguns had decorative handles. The jury heard testimony that these weapons were expensive and highly prized by senior members of criminal organizations in Mexico.

The weapons and ammunition had an approximate street value of $25,000.

The defense attempted to convince the jury Vasquez did not know about the items inside the vehicle. They did not believe his claims and found him guilty as charged.

U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana presided over trial and will set sentencing for a later date. At that time, Vasquez faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Previously released on bond, Vasquez was taken into custody following the sentencing today where he will remain pending sentencing.  

Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation along with Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Francisco J. Rodriguez and David Fawcett are prosecuting the case.

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