Sentences handed down for 2 trying to smuggle guns, ammo into Mexico

The second defendant in a gun smuggling case out of Arizona was sentenced in federal court Wednesday to serve more than two years in prison, the Justice Department announced this week.

Ariana Alexa Ramirez, 26, of Phoenix, was sentenced to 30 months this week followed by 36 months of supervised release, while her co-defendant, Andrian Alvarez-Valdez, 23, of Mexico, was previously sentenced to serve 46 months in prison.

Both defendants previously pleaded guilty to Smuggling Goods From the United States, a class C felony offense.

According to court documents, on March 26 Ramirez and Alvarez-Valdez purchased a bulk lot of ammunition at a store in Phoenix. The following day, the two were stopped by authorities at the Nogales Port of Entry as they tried to cross the border into Mexico. Ramirez’s two children were in the car at the time.

A search of the vehicle uncovered two AK-47s, six 30-round 7.62×39 magazines, one 10-round 7.62×39 magazine, almost 3,000 rounds of ammunition of varying calibers, and a disassembled tripod mount for a .50-caliber machine gun.

The two were taken into custody and further investigation, which was a corroborative effort between the ATF and the Department of Homeland Security, revealed that Ramirez and Alvarez-Valdez smuggled weapons and ammunition into Mexico on multiple occasions in the past.

Acting U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange said the sentences should serve as a warning to others who may attempt to smuggle weapons across the border.

“This case is a prime example of the cooperative efforts among law enforcement to stem the illegal trafficking of guns and ammunition into Mexico,” added ATF Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry.