PRESIDIO, Texas (Border Report) — A gun-smuggling scheme gone wrong in West Texas has led to the arrest of two women and a man sought in Austin for manslaughter.
Jessica Tagle, 35, and Pricilla Bustos Martinez, 39, on Jan. 29 attempted to drive a 2018 Chevrolet Silverado pickup into Mexico but were apparently denied entry by authorities there. The women headed back to the United States and were stopped for inspection at the Presidio port of entry.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations officers searched the truck and allegedly discovered four .22-caliber handguns concealed under the front seats. The women, both of them U.S. citizens, were turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for questioning.
The investigation led federal authorities to a third person allegedly involved in the gun-running conspiracy, according to CBP. The man — whose name wasn’t released by authorities — was the subject of an active manslaugher warrant in Austin, federal officials said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has accepted to prosecute all three suspects, CBP said.
“An enforcement action at the port of entry will sometimes open the door to the discovery of other illegal activity,” said CBP Presidio Port Director Fred Hutterer. “By working closely with our DHS partners at Homeland Security Investigations a dangerous person was taken into custody.”
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), 73,684 firearms (about 70 percent) seized in Mexico and traced from 2009 to 2014 originated in the United States. ATF data shows that these firearms were often acquired in Southwest border states through “straw” purchases — a few of them at a time.