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Indictment Details Alleged Ammunition Smuggling Scheme

Published On: Sep 07 2011 03:55:58 AM CDT   Updated On: Aug 08 2011 12:04:22 PM CDT
EL PASO, Texas -

Thousands of rounds of ammunition seized from a local pawnshop, investigators said, has become evidence in an ammunition smuggling investigation.

The federal indictment reveals more details about how federal agents allegedly linked six people at Geneva Loan and Jewelry Co. to the alleged illegal operations.

The 10 page federal document is filled with details outlining a number of times defendants allegedly sold thousands of rounds of ammunition, allegedly knowing it would all be illegally exported into Mexico. But, federal officials said, the defendants did not know their top buyer was an undercover federal agent.

In the heart of downtown El Paso, amidst the hustle and bustle of a Wednesday morning, yellow crime scene tape and large moving trucks in front of Geneva Loan and Jewelry Co. looked anything but typical.

Investigators hauled off boxes allegedly loaded with evidence from the pawnshop. Inside the boxes, investigators said, was more than 34,000 rounds of assault caliber ammunition and more than 180 high-capacity magazines for AK-47 type firearms.

Investigators said they arrested pawn shop manager Bryan Shonberg, 60, Jaime Rangel, 40, Guadalupe Gallegos, 47, Cirilio Soriano, 47, Rquel Galvan, 47, and Elataria Pedroza, 56.

This past March, the federal indictment explains Schonberg, Gallegos, Soriano, Galvan and Rangel allegedly sold an undercover agent 10,520 rounds of assorted caliber ammunition.

The document alleges the defendants repackaged the ammo from original factory cardboard boxes into marked bundles, a process allegedly used to make it easier to conceal the ammunition before it crossed the border.

An undercover agent allegedly warned Rangel and Gallegos about increased inspections at the international bridge back in October.

But that same day, according to the federal document, Rangel sold an undercover agent six high-capacity magazine drums for AR-15 firearms and an additional six for AK-47 firearms.

As recent as late March, Soriano allegedly delivered, to an unspecified party, 148 high-capacity magazines for AK-47 firearms, all for illegal export to Mexico.

Each smuggling charge carries up to 10 years in prison; each smuggling conspiracy charge carries up to 5 years in prison; and the money laundering charge carries up to 20 years in prison.


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