The more than 5,5000 rounds hidden in the spare tire proved too heavy for Rivero to pick up after it fell from his truck near the border. (Photo: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
An Arizona man was sentenced to more than seven years in prison last week for attempting to smuggle ammo across the U.S. border and into Mexico last year.
Gabriel Rivero, 41, was ordered to serve 92 months followed by three years of supervised released, according to a news release by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Court documents show that on Feb. 11, 2016, Rivero drove a pickup truck near the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, but stopped about 75 yards short of the border after a spare tire fell from his truck. Rivero exited the vehicle and attempted to pick up the tire, but was unable to do so. He then got back into the truck and crossed the border into Mexico.
Border Patrol agents then inspected the tire and found more than 5,500 rounds of ammunition of varying calibers concealed within the tire. Authorities also successfully identified Rivero through the use of the port of entry’s surveillance video.
About a month later, on March 12, 2016, Rivero re-entered the United States via the DeConcini Port of Entry, also in Nogales, and was promptly detained. During an interview with authorities, Rivero, who did not have a license to export ammunition, admitted that he was paid $500 to transport the ammo from the United States into Mexico.
Rivero was arrested and in December a jury found him guilty of attempting to illegally export goods out of the United States.
According to court documents, Rivero also has a prior criminal history that includes possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, attempted kidnapping, and aggravated assault, all of which are felonies. These previous convictions prohibited Rivero from legally possessing either a firearm or ammunition.
“This failed smuggling attempt shows the lengths to which criminal organizations will go in an effort to evade detection and illegally export ammunition to Mexico,” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge of HSI Phoenix. “This case is also an important reminder about the crucial role federal collaboration plays in combating this public safety threat and ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice.”