(Winston-Salem Journal) — Two Winston-Salem residents convicted earlier this year on federal charges that they conspired to smuggle weapons and ammunition to southern Mexico were each sentenced to almost four years in prison.
Ramiro Alejandro Garcia Ramon and Inocensia Medel Banos pleaded guilty in March in U.S. District Court in Greensboro to one count each of conspiracy to defraud the United States by smuggling and attempting to smuggle firearms, ammunition and firearms accessories from the United States to Mexico.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles sentenced Ramon and Banos Friday to three years and 10 months in federal prison. They both will be on supervised release for a period of three years, said Lynne Klauer, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of North Carolina.
Helen Parsonage, Garcia Ramon’s attorney, said Ramon had no previous criminal record and a stable work history, resulting in his getting the minimum sentence.
Ames Chamberlin, attorney for Medel Banos, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
Medel Banos and Garcia Ramon were arrested, along with Medel Banos’ father, Angel Medel Lorenzo, after a raid July 26, 2012, at 416 East Sprague St., a house owned by Garcia Ramon. Several suspicious packages were found in the house, and authorities evacuated nearby residents and brought in a bomb squad.
Authorities found no explosives and neighbors were allowed back into their homes.
But agents did find 17 firearms as well as ammunition and accessories for the firearms, according to federal documents. The firearms were wrapped in plastic and black electrical tape to prevent them from detection by X-ray scanners at the U.S./Mexican border.
The ammunition was wrapped in such materials as aluminum foil and electrical tape to avoid detections, federal authorities said. The weapons, ammunition and accessories were hidden in compartments in vehicles and driven to Mexico between 2011 and July 2012, authorities alleged.
Garcia Ramon is accused of helping wrap the weapons for shipment and storing firearms in his house. Medel Banos is accused of acting as a lookout during meetings between Medel Lorenzo and his co-conspirators to discuss the smuggling operation.
Medel Lorenzo also pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States by smuggling or attempting to smuggle firearms, ammunition and firearms accessories. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 12.