MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — A man from Mission has pleaded guilty to attempting to export contraband cigarettes.
A release states, Jose Francisco Guerra, 80, owned operated Victor M. Guerra Inc., a customs brokering company in Hidalgo. Authorities stopped a tractor-trailer carrying approximately 17 million cigarettes headed for Mexico. The shipping manifest had been falsified and the cigarettes lacked the applicable tax stamp required in Texas.
An investigation revealed the cigarettes originated in a warehouse located at 2900 North Depot Road in Hidalgo. Guerra controlled and operated that warehouse and facilitated the storage and sales.
Authorities add a Guerra operated a second warehouse. Both warehouses contained $422,917,800 contraband cigarettes combined.
Guerra admitted to to the smuggling attempt and knowing that doing so was illegal.
Authorities seized a total of $88 million including the cigarettes and equipment.
Guerra is facing up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine. The release adds he was allowed to remain on bond pending his hearing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Mitchell is prosecuting the case.