Feds: man tried to smuggle .50 caliber rifle, 200 rounds of ammo into Mexico

Federal prosecutors charged a man with coordinating an attempt to smuggle a high-powered .50 caliber rifle into Mexico.

Authorities arrested Claudio Roberto Solano, a U.S. citizen born in 1992, on Wednesday and charged him with attempting to export firearms without a license.

The arrest followed surveillance conducted by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas task force at a Pharr business on May 19.

Those agents reported in a criminal complaint that they watched as two men arrived in a silver 2018 Ford Fusion and parked next to a 2007 maroon Ford Expedition.

The complaint said agents watched as the two men exited the Fusion and walked toward the Expedition, where a third man opened that vehicle’s rear cargo area.

The agents watched as the two men removed multiple items from the trunk of the Fusion and placed the items in the Expedition, according to the complaint, which said authorities later identified Solano as one of the men.

That same day, constables pulled over the driver of Expedition as it left the Pharr business and gained consent to search the vehicle, which led to the discovery of the .50 caliber rifle, according to the complaint.

That weapon was broken down into six parts and authorities reported in the complaint that they also found .50 caliber and 5.7 caliber ammunition.

The driver of that vehicle was not identified in the complaint, but federal prosecutors said in the document that he admitted to being recruited by an unidentified co-conspirator to smuggle the firearm and ammunition into Mexico for $1,000.

The complaint also said that Border Patrol recovered a known fingerprint of Solano’s from one of the rounds.

He made a first appearance Friday in McAllen federal court in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker, who ordered him temporarily held without bond pending a detention hearing scheduled for next week, court records indicate.