3 men plead guilty to smuggling guns into Mexico - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

3 men plead guilty to smuggling guns into Mexico

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Three men admitted in federal court in San Diego Thursday to conspiring to smuggle ammunition and guns, including military-style assault rifles, into Mexico.

Jesus Albino Hernandez, 24, Jose Luis Mendoza-Valenzuela, 21, and Francisco Rodriguez Jr., 27, entered their guilty pleas during a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill Burkhardt.

The defendants conceded that in 2013 and 2014, they and others arranged for firearms - including AK-47s, AR-15s and .50-caliber belt-fed machine guns - to be transported to Mexico via Southern California ports of entry by hiding them in speaker boxes placed inside vehicles.

Law enforcement officers found and seized all the weapons before they made it across the border, prosecutors said.

As part of their plea agreements, Hernandez, Mendoza-Valenzuela and Rodriguez agreed to forfeit all the guns impounded from them, along with more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition.

The defendants also admitted to lying to licensed firearms dealers as part of their efforts to acquire the weapons. On one occasion, Rodrigue knowingly falsified a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives form by claiming he was buying one of the .50-caliber guns for his own use, when in fact he intended to send it to Mexico.

Each defendant will face maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at their sentencing hearing, scheduled for Feb. 1.

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