When it comes to smuggling illegal items into, or out of, the United States, smugglers can get pretty creative. Such is the case with a shipment from Maracaibo, Venezuela, which was seized by custom agents at Miami International Airport this past April.
The case contained empty 25 vehicle batteries, which were being sent to a home in Kendall. The batteries were reportedly not only empty, but some were outfitted with modified compartments. The custom agent decided to let it be sent to the home located in the 3800 block of SW 132 Avenue in Miami, however, they placed the home under surveillance.
According a court document obtained by the Miami Herald, in October investigators noticed two suspects, Jose Alexander Gutierrez Morales and Alfredo Montilla Hernandez, “entering [the] property and delivering and dropping off handguns.” The suspects were then seen taking items to the airport using a truck to carry the pallet. When customs agents intercepted the package, it was discovered that the empty battery cases were filled with weapons, ammunition and high-capacity magazines.
When Hernandez and Morales were later pulled over, the vehicle they were in also contained two handguns, four AR-15 assault rifles, and 1,721 rounds of ammunition. Both are now charged with smuggling in addition to exportation and conspiracy-related charges according to WFTV9.
Weapons smuggling charges are most often considered to be a felony and can be tried not only at the local level, but also at the federal level. It is yet to be seen how Hernandez and Morales will be tried and/or if they will be convicted.
In the event of any criminal charge, including something as serious as weapons smuggling, it’s wise to seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You have certain rights that must be adhered to by investigators and an attorney can help ensure that those rights are protected. Furthermore, a criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the entire process including during interviews following an arrest and during the trial.
Alfonso Chardy. (2016, November 13). The shipment said car batteries. The agents discovered ammunition. Retrieved November 14, 2016, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article114529898.html
E. (2016, November 14). Smugglers use empty batteries to sneak guns, 23,500 rounds of ammo out of Florida, officials say. Retrieved November 14, 2016, from http://www.wftv.com/news/local/smugglers-use-empty-batteries-to-sneak-guns-23500-rounds-of-ammo-out-of-florida-officials-say/467077541