Channelview woman sentenced for trying to smuggle 3,580 rounds of ammo

Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A 52-year-old woman from Channelview, Texas has been sentenced to prison for her attempts to smuggle over 3,500 rounds of ammo into Mexico by concealing it within a spare tire, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

Maria Tapia-Aguilar has been ordered to serve over four years in prison followed by three years of supervised release after attempting to export seven different caliber types of ammunition into Mexico.

On Nov. 6, 2019, Homeland Security Investigations received information regarding a woman involved in a suspicious ammunition purchase at a Federal Firearms Licensee in McAllen, according to the criminal complaint.

Agents began to survey Tapia-Aguilar’s Ford Escape which eventually arrived in Edinburg where she bought more ammo.

A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper conducted a traffic stop on the Escape after observing Tapia-Aguilar committing a motor vehicle violation.

It was here that Tapia-Aguilar admitted to the officer that she had ammunition concealed above the vehicle’s spare tire. After giving consent to a search of the vehicle, the DPS trooper asked Tapia-Aguilar to speak with agents at the Texas DPS office, which she agreed to.

During the interview, Tapia-Aguilar stated that she purchased the ammo and concealed it inside the Escape in order to smuggle it into Mexico where the ammunition would be turned over to a co-conspirator, the complaint said.

Tapia-Aguilar also admitted to knowing it was illegal to smuggle ammo into Mexico and that she had done so once before.

Of the 3,580 rounds of ammo, a majority consisted of about 1,500 rounds of .22 caliber ammo.

“Exporting ammunition can be just as dangerous as the weapons themselves as it not only endangers U.S. citizens, but also puts the lives of those on both sides of our border at risk, especially if in the arms of criminals,” Alamdar S. Hamdani. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, said in the press release.

Tapia-Aguilar was permitted to stay on bond and will have to voluntarily surrender to a federal Bureau of Prisons facility in the near future.