Houston, TX

Houston resident sentenced for smuggling firearm

Marisol Gallagher

HOUSTON, TX – Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery announced the order of Leonel Avalos-Santoyo, a 50-year-old Houston resident, to be brought to federal prison for smuggling goods from the United States as well as making a false statement while he was purchasing a firearm.

In addition, on August 12, 2021, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana ordered Avalos-Santoyo to serve a 46-month sentence to be instantly followed by three years of supervised release.

The ordeal began on April 25 in 2020, when Avalos-Santoyo traveled as a passenger in a commercial van from the United States to Mexico at the Lincoln Juarez Bridge in Laredo. The law enforcement had to stop the vehicle and the vehicle was inspected.

During the inspection, they found five firearms along with ammunition and firearm accessories in Avalos-Santoyo’s luggage. The investigation continued and authorities determined that between September 21, 2019, and November 5, 2020, he purchased up to 41 firearms at three federal firearms dealers in Harris County. Throughout each transaction, Avalos-Santoyo falsely claimed that he was the actual buyer.

Avalos-Santoyo, who was previously released on bond, was then permitted to remain on bond voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility not long after.

The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations and was assisted by Customs and Border Protection. Moreover, the case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Bowling.

Bowling, who has a bachelor's degree in History and a master's degree in Law, has been working as an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 2019. Throughout his career, he has been working in several law firms and prosecuting numerous cases as a District Attorney.

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