May 30, 2023

A U.S. citizen has pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle several thousand rounds of ammunition into Mexico earlier this year, the Justice Department said Tuesday. 

On Feb. 27, Jesus Alberto Olivarez, 32, drove his black PT Cruiser to the Lincoln Juarez International Bridge, which connects Laredo, Texas, to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where Olivarez lives, according to a news release from the Justice Department. Law enforcement authorities noticed that the doors of Olivarez’s car were rattling as if they were unusually heavy, leading to a search of all four of the Cruiser’s door panels. The search uncovered a total of 5,680 live rounds of pistol ammunition of various calibers. 

Olivarez admitted to smuggling ammunition from the U.S. that he had received just a few hours prior, and that he personally concealed in the car’s doors and panels, prosecutors said.   

“Olivarez was about to drive into Mexico with almost 6,000 rounds of live ammunition until the expertise and keen ear of a law enforcement officer thwarted his plan,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani for the Southern District of Texas in a statement. “Stopping the illegal flow of firearms and ammunition into Mexico saves lives and will always be a priority of the Southern District of Texas and our local, state and federal law enforcement partners.”

8am Friday commuters from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, line up on the Lincoln–Juarez bridge over the Rio Gr
Morning commuters from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, line up on the Lincoln–Juarez bridge over the Rio Grande.

Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Last year, a judge dismissed a $10 billion civil lawsuit filed by the Mexican government against American gun manufacturers and distributors. While the sale of firearms is severely restricted in Mexico and controlled by its defense department, thousands of guns are smuggled into Mexico by the country’s powerful drug cartels.

The suit argued that the companies’ negligent and illegal commercial practices have unleashed tremendous bloodshed in Mexico. Among those sued were some of the biggest names in guns, including: Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc.; Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc.; Beretta U.S.A. Corp.; Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC, and Glock Inc. 

In March, the Mexican government filed an appeal, according to Reuters. 

Olivarez faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 maximum fine when he is sentenced Aug. 9.

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