On August 29, Jorge Chica-Giler pled guilty before Judge Jose E. Martinez to smuggling weapons to Ecuador. During the hearing in Fort Piece U.S District Court, the 28-year-old man confessed that he smuggled firearms out of the country with the help of his co-conspirators, who bought the guns on his behalf.
In the syndicate, his co-defendants Nicolas Ayala and Alexei Pupo-Abrahantes would conceal the guns in compressed air tanks for shipping to co-conspirators in Ecuador. Chica-Giler disclosed to the court that he had shipped a total of eight consignments, estimated to be at least 35 firearms, including a handful is f assault rifles.
Chica-Giler and his aides packed the firearms less noticeably. They would join two 11-gallon tanks to form a 22-gallon tank by cutting off one end of each tank. They would then place the shrink-wrapped weapons inside and weld the tanks together. Pupo Antahantes could use black spray paint to conceal the alteration.
In surveillance footage dated August 2021, Chica-Giler was spotted at a Harbor freight office in Miami. This was around when it is alleged he bought tools used in the illegal practice, including a welding blanket, a masonry cutting wheel, and air tanks. The law enforcement put him under their watch.
A few days later, Chica-Giler and an aide were seen dropping two packages at a freight forwarding company in Miami. Based on border search laws, the law enforcement agents confiscated the packages for investigation. An x-ray later revealed concealed firearms.
“Chica-Giler pled guilty to one count of conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; one count of dealing in firearms without a license, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 922(a)(1)(A); one count of smuggling firearms from the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 554; one count of delivery of a firearm to a common carrier without written notification, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(e); and one count of possession of a firearm by an unlawful alien, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(5)(B),” read part of the press release from the Southern District of Florida Department of Justice.
His co-defendants Ayala and Pupo-Abrahantes also pled guilty to being accomplices in the illegal weapons transport. Judge Martinez is expected to sentence Chica-Giler on November 7 at 2.30 pm. According to his violations, he could get a 35- years imprisonment sentence. U.S sentencing guidelines and statutory considerations will guide the judge’s decision.