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MCALLEN, Texas — A former south Texas police recruit will spend the next four-and-a-half years in prison following his conviction for smuggling goods from the United States into Mexico. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Hidalgo County Constable’s Office investigated the case.
On Aug. 31, a federal judge sentenced Pedro Cruz Almeida Jr., 22, of Pharr, to serve 50 months in prison immediately followed by three years of supervised release.
According to court documents, on Feb. 3, Almeida was driving a red Hyundai Elantra when authorities conducted a traffic stop. During a search, they discovered 600 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition in the vehicle. Almeida admitted he intended to transfer the ammunition to an individual waiting at the port of entry driving a vehicle with a Tamaulipas, Mexico, license plate.
In Mexico, he received cash to order the ammunition. Almeida admitted he ordered ammunition on approximately 30 occasions over the past year.
On Feb. 9, agents subsequently seized an additional 300 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition postmarked to Almeida.
Almeida pleaded guilty April 25. At the time of the plea, he informed the court he was attending a local police academy at the time of his arrest.
At his hearing, the court heard evidence regarding Almeida’s degree of involvement in the smuggling scheme and how he executed his role in the scheme while simultaneously attending the police academy. In handing down the sentence, the court noted how Almeida — being from the area — knew how dangerous the quantity and type of ammunition would be in cartel members’ hands.
Previously released on bond, officials took Almeida into custody following his sentencing. He will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
“The sentencing of a former south Texas police recruit sends a stern message that those who purchase, transport and facilitate the smuggling of ammunition will face the consequences,” said HSI San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee. “Targeting those involved in circumventing our nation’s firearms and ammunition laws remains a top priority for HSI.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter I. Brostowin and Lee Fry for the Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
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