Alleged gun smuggler makes court appearance - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Alleged gun smuggler makes court appearance

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Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2019 8:45 pm

A Brownsville man accused of trying to smuggle seven military-grade rifles across the border into Matamoros appeared in federal court this week pending trial.

Dimas Torres-Rodriguez was charged in a three-count indictment filed on April 2 accusing him of facilitating, transporting, and concealing, and selling five 7.62 caliber AK type rifles, two 5.56 caliber AR type rifles, four 30 round 7.62 caliber magazines, and two 30 round 5.56 caliber magazines.

A criminal complaint filed on March 11 by a Homeland Security Investigations special agent states that the weapons and ammunition are “designated as defense articles on the United States Munitions List” and that Torres did not obtain a license from the Department of State to export such weapons.

A narrative of events attached to the complaint stated that HSI special agents received a tip regarding a suspicious firearms purchase at the SAXET gun show in McAllen on March 9.

The agents observed a man who was later identified as Torres purchase “approximately eight firearms” and commenced surveillance on Torres at his residence in Brownsville, authorities said.

HSI witnessed Torres concealing rifles in the cavity of his Dodge Pickup truck’s tail lights on March 10, according to authorities. Agents alerted Customs and Border Protection officers, who searched Torres’ vehicle at the B&M Port of Entry.

The document stated that Torres failed to declare the items. Officers located the rifles and ammunition in a “non-factory compartment” behind the vehicle’s tail lights and also underneath the truck’s plastic bed liner.

Torres was questioned and admitted to HSI special agents that he had been promised $600 in payment to deliver the firearms to an individual in Matamoros, according to authorities.

Court documents indicated that Torres is a legal permanent resident. He was released pending trial on $50,000 secured bond, which required him to surrender his passport and wear a GPS ankle monitor.

In court on Tuesday morning, federal prosecutors expressed to U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez, Jr. that they had concerns regarding Torres’ ability to maintain the conditions of his pre-trial release due to an incident in July in which the ankle band was tampered with.

The Judge asked Torres if he understood what bond was and to re-confirm that he knows he cannot remove his ankle monitor.

A competency hearing held on June 27 indicated that the Court found that Torres was not suffering from any mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent. The man was subsequently arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty.

Torres’ attorney asked the court for a 30-day continuance pending trial, which is scheduled for jury selection in January.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com

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