Man accused of smuggling grenade launcher in federal custody

McALLEN — A man attempting to smuggle a grenade launcher into Mexico made his initial appearance in federal court Tuesday.

Miguel Angel Gutierrez stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter E. Ormsby on Tuesday morning in connection with an attempt to smuggle a grenade launcher barrel into Mexico the day before.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested Gutierrez Monday in connection with a firearms trafficking investigation conducted by agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations.

Earlier this month HSI agents, as part of ongoing investigation, seized a M203 launcher barrel from an unnamed individual in Brownsville who told agents that the barrel was supposed to be smuggled into Mexico.

According to the complaint, the man, who is not identified in the complaint, told agents that the barrel was supposed to be smuggled into Mexico.

A meeting was scheduled with the understanding that an unnamed person in Mexico was going to send someone, later identified to be Gutierrez, to pick up the launcher.

The launcher was repackaged, and handed to Gutierrez in Brownsville.

CBP officers working the port of entry in Brownsville approached Gutierrez and detained him.

During his interview with authorities, Gutierrez told them that he had been recruited by an unnamed co-conspirator in Mexico to smuggle a tube used for launching grenades.

“According to the Department of State, Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance (DTCC), M203 launcher tubes are determined to be a defense article described on the United States Munitions List (USML) and regulated for export pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act,” the complaint states.

Gutierrez told officers he knew it was illegal to smuggle the grenade launcher tube into Mexico, the complaint states.

At his hearing, Gutierrez requested a court-appointed attorney, and the court granted this request, court notes show.

Gutierrez, who will be back before a judge on Friday, was temporarily remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

A judge is expected to rule on whether Gutierrez will be granted a bond during the Friday hearing.