ARIZONA NEWS

Mexican man pleads guilty after being arrested in Arizona for gun smuggling charges

Mar 31, 2024, 11:00 AM | Updated: 12:30 pm

Man from Mexico pleads guilty to smuggling guns out of U.S....

A man from Mexico pleaded guilty to smuggling firearms from the U.S. into Mexico, Arizona authorities announced last week. (Facebook File Photo/Maricopa County Superior Court)

(Facebook File Photo/Maricopa County Superior Court)

PHOENIX — A man from Mexico pleaded guilty to smuggling firearms from the U.S. into Mexico, Arizona authorities announced last week.

Jesus Angel Vasquez Balganon, 33, admitted to smuggling goods and international money laundering earlier this month, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.

He admitted to exporting various firearms, ammunition and weapons components from March 2018 to January 2021, prosecutors said.

Weapons like these can only be exported with a valid license, which Vasquez Balganon did not have, prosecutors added.

When did officials catch the man from Mexico accused of smuggling weapons?

Authorities arrested Vasquez Balganon in Nogales on April 6, 2021, while he was in a vehicle headed to Mexico, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.

Officers with Customs and Border Protection allegedly found a hidden shopping bag with nine 30-round AR-15 5.56 caliber high-capacity magazines in the vehicle.

Vasquez Balganon admitted he knew he was prohibited from taking the magazines into Mexico, prosecutors said.

He also allegedly told officers he expected to be paid $100 to transport the weaponry from the U.S. to Mexico.

Prosecutors said Vasquez Balganon also tried to export 67 firearms, including:

  • A machine gun.
  • An AK-103 style firearm.
  • A Century Arms WASR rifle.
  • An FN SCAR 17 rifle.
  • 20,000 rounds of ammunition and ammunition links.
  • 208 magazines.

Some of these firearms were recovered in Mexico, prosecutors said.

Where did the money laundering charges come from?

Additionally, Vasquez Balganon admitted to transferring $20,680 from a U.S. bank to a Mexican bank, prosecutors said.

These funds were to be used to pay for the smuggling of firearms and weapon components into Mexico, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.

A judge is scheduled to sentence him on May 23, prosecutors said.

If he is convicted, he could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for smuggling goods out of the U.S.

He could also face additional penalties if convicted of money laundering. That comes with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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Mexican man pleads guilty after being arrested in Arizona for gun smuggling charges