CBP Officers Arrest Woman on Alien Smuggling Charges, Seize 6,486 Rounds of High Powered Ammunition
Mission/Hidalgo, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Anzalduas/Reynosa and Hidalgo/Reynosa International Bridges arrested a woman on alien smuggling charges and seized 6,486 rounds of live high powered ammunition in two separate and unrelated enforcement actions.
On December 30, CBP officers working at the Anzalduas/Reynosa International Bridge came in contact with a northbound 2003 Pontiac Grand Am sedan. The driver was identified as Iris Cristal Sanchez Hernandez, a Mexican citizen, age 25 from Rio Grande City, Texas and was accompanied by a 5-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl.
At primary, Sanchez Hernandez presented U.S. birth certificates for the children and identified them as U.S. citizens. After the initial primary inspection, Sanchez Hernandez and the two children were referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, CBP officers established that the children were not U.S. citizens but citizens of Mexico. CBP officers arrested Sanchez Hernandez on federal alien smuggling charges. Pending appearance before a U.S. Magistrate, Sanchez Hernandez remains incarcerated. The children are in temporary custody awaiting release to biological parents. CBP officers seized the Pontiac Grand Am sedan.
On December 30, CBP officers working outbound enforcement operations at the Hidalgo/Reynosa southbound lanes came in contact with a 2003 Chevy Silverado pickup truck. The vehicle was traveling south and was headed into Mexico. The driver, identified as Luz Sylvia Cortez, a U.S. citizen, age 33 from Hidalgo, Texas was accompanied by her 14-year-old daughter and by Claudia Janeth Trevino Martinez, a Mexican citizen, age 24 from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. A CBP officer referred the Silverado pickup truck, driver and passengers to secondary for further inspection.
In secondary, officers found 20 rounds of high powered ammunition hidden under Trevino Martinez's clothing. Officers found additional amounts of ammunition hidden in a personal handbag and in three other bags. In the bed of the pickup truck, officers found more ammunition hidden in a quilt, in a toaster oven and in six soft drink cartons.
In total, CBP officers seized 1,996 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition, 1,490 rounds of .308 caliber ammunition and 3,000 rounds of 7.62 caliber ammunition. CBP officers arrested Cortez and Trevino Martinez on a federal charge of unlicensed export of items on the U.S. munitions list. The 14-year-old girl was released to a family member. After their arrest, both Cortez and Trevino Martinez were transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents who continue to investigate this seizure. Pending appearance before a U.S. Magistrate, both women remain incarcerated. CBP officers seized 2003 Chevy pickup truck.
Hector A. Mancha, CBP port director, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas said, "The alien smuggling case at the Anzalduas International Bridge is being recorded as the first child smuggling case for this international bridge." Mancha further said, "I commend our cadre of officers for their enforcement work in this smuggling case and for intercepting this large amount of ammunition that was headed into Mexico."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.