Mission men face ammunition smuggling charges

McALLEN — A pair of Mission men who purchased thousands of rounds of ammunition face federal charges after allegedly attempting to smuggle the ammo into Mexico, court records show.

Jorge Humberto Lopez Jr., 26, was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers attempting to enter Mexico on April 20 while carrying three 9mm ammunition magazines, the complaint against him states.

Additionally, Jose Alejandro Lopez, 22, was arrested a few days later at a residence in Mission listed to Jorge Lopez.

Jorge Lopez told authorities the residence was where he obtained the magazines, the complaint against the men states.

The criminal complaints also outline allegations that — between Aug. 27, 2019, and Oct. 6, 2019 — the two men ordered roughly 29,000 rounds of ammunition in varying calibers. The ammunition was allegedly purchased online and sent to an address listed to Jorge H. Lopez on the 1800 block of Business Highway 83 in Mission, records show.

Subsequently, on April 20, Jorge H. Lopez was attempting to enter into Mexico when he was referred for a secondary inspection and found in possession of the three 9mm magazines.

“Jorge Lopez stated (he) knew it was illegal to transport magazines from the United States into Mexico and Jorge Lopez did not have a valid license to export magazines from the United States into Mexico,” the document states.

Just two days later, on April 22, federal agents executed a search warrant at the aforementioned location in Mission listed to both the Lopez men.

“(Jose A. Lopez) agreed to speak to (special agents) at the HSI McAllen Office and, at the office, under rights advisement and waiver, (Jose A. Lopez) stated (he) received multiple packages addressed to (Jorge H. Lopez) at (the address),” the complaint states. “… after receiving the packages (Jose A. Lopez) would open the packages, confirm their contents and then contact (Jorge H. Lopez), in Mexico, to advise the packages had been received and what the contents of the packages were.”

Jose A. Lopez additionally told agents that after advising Jorge H. Lopez of the arrival of the packages, Jorge H. Lopez, or another co-conspirator, would pick up the packages and take them into Mexico.

Jose A. Lopez told agents he was paid $200 to order the ammunition online for Jorge H. Lopez.

Jorge H. Lopez remains in federal custody after he was denied a bond during a hearing on April 29, records show.

The government — which, in addition to making the arguments that the weight of the evidence against him is strong, and has a lengthy prison term in convicted — argued that Jorge H. Lopez, a U.S. citizen from Mission, has lived in Mexico since his medical discharge from the U.S. Army two years ago and has significant ties to Mexico, as his father and wife are currently living there, a court document states.

Jose A. Lopez, who remains in federal custody, is scheduled for a future detention hearing.