Mission man, Mexican nationals sentenced on firearms charges

McALLEN — Three men faced sentencing earlier this week in connection with their role in an attempt to smuggle more than 7,000 rounds of ammo out of the country.

Arturo Alejandro Saenz, 22, of Mission, and two co-defendants, Edgar Abiel Corona-Rodriguez, and Oziel Corona-Rodriguez, of Mexico, each were sentenced Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa, court records show.

It’s unclear whether Edgar Abiel and Oziel Corona-Rodriguez are related.

Hinojosa handed down a 20-month prison sentence for Saenz, while Edgar Abiel and Oziel Corona-Rodriguez received 28 and 26-month sentences, respectively, court notes show.

Saenz will also be required to complete two years of supervised release after completion of his prison term.

Edgar Abiel and Oziel Corona-Rodriguez, who are not U.S. citizens and do not have legal authorization to remain in the country, will likely be deported at the completion of their prison term.

The trio pleaded guilty to unlawful transport of firearms in February of this year, related to their September 2017 arrest in the parking lot of a McAllen sporting goods store.

The Mission man was arrested — along with alleged accomplices Edgar Abiel and Oziel Corona-Rodriguez — during a traffic stop after Homeland Security Investigations special agents observed the men loading ammunition into the back of a vehicle bearing Mexican license plates.

“On Sept. 23, at about 3:05 p.m., (HSI) special agents observed three men… loading a large amount of ammunition into a grey Nissan March bearing Tamaulipas, Mexico license plates, at a sporting goods store in McAllen,” read the criminal complaint filed against the trio.

Agents who observed the men ran a background check and confirmed that the vehicle had crossed into the U.S. earlier that morning on a non-immigrant Visa, with both Edgar Abiel and Oziel Corona-Rodriguez inside.

HSI agents called for help from McAllen police, who then pulled the group over on a “lawful” traffic stop, the complaint states.

McAllen police officers then obtained consent to search the vehicle and discovered a “significant amount” of ammunition within.

After arriving at the scene, HSI agents spoke with Saenz, who admitted to purchasing the ammunition for the Mexican citizens — more than 7,000 rounds of 7.62-by-39mm caliber ammunition.

“…Saenz admitted he was recruited by Edgar to procure a significant amount of ammunition that was intended to be smuggled from the U.S. into Mexico,” the complaint states. “Saenz claimed he purchased on the behalf of Edgar and Oziel because neither of them possessed an identification card.”

He told agents that Edgar Abiel Corona-Rodriguez gave him the money to buy the ammo and promised to compensate him for doing so.

“Saenz also admitted to previously purchasing firearms on behalf of Edgar that were intended to be smuggled from the U.S. into Mexico,” the complaint states.

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