CBP finds 19 guns, 553 rounds of ammo at Brownsville’s Gateway bridge

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A view of Gateway International Bridge from Matamoros, Mexico Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

United States Customs and Border Protection officers discovered 19 weapons and 553 rounds of ammunition in a woman’s vehicle at the Gateway International Bridge on Monday.

Ashley Michelle Quezada was charged with attempting to export merchandise from the United States, according to a criminal complaint.

Quezada arrived at the Gateway International Bridge in a 1995 black Dodge Ram and said she was visiting family.

She added that she was returned from Mexico to the U.S. due to the Dodge Ram not being registered to her. She previously stated that she borrowed the vehicle from her brother.

While at the primary inspection, a K-9 officer conducting a screening of the vehicle noticed Quezada getting nervous.

When the officer asked if she was the owner of the vehicle, she said that she was crossing the truck into Mexico for her cousin, but was returned to the U.S. by Mexican officials.

It was then that the officer checked a speaker box behind a seat and noticed Quezada growing anxious.

“A check of a luggage that was on the passenger side floorboard yielded the discovery of a high-capacity AR drum magazine concealed between the clothes,” the complaint said.

During secondary inspection, 19 firearms and 28 magazines were found inside the speaker box and inside the passenger side door, a black sock was found containing 553 rounds of assorted calibers of ammunition.

In an interview with Homeland Security Investigations special agents, Quezada said she was asked for a favor by one of her husband’s friends.

She stated that she was asked to cross the Dodge Ram into Mexico where someone would be meeting her to take possession of it.

Her husband was paid $150 by a man who they met at the Ross in downtown Brownsville.

“Quezada was given possession of the vehicle and crossed into Mexico,” the complaint said. “When she was returned to the U.S., she states she inspected the luggage on the passenger side floorboard. Quezada states she felt the drum magazine hidden with the clothing.”

She also admitted to knowing it was illegal to import and or export any type of firearms, ammunition and magazines.

Officers found 14 handguns, four AR-style rifles and one shotgun that were seized from Quezada.

She’s scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Betancourt in Brownsville federal court for her preliminary examination hearing on Friday morning.