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Tampa Man Sentenced For His Role In Gun Smuggling Ring

TAMPA, FL. – A Tampa man has been sentenced to prison for his role in a drug-smuggling ring in Tampa.

U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven has sentenced Sergio David Hernandez-Zuluaga, 41, Tampa, to one year and one day in federal prison for providing a firearm to a ‘prohibited person’.

Hernandez-Zuluaga had pleaded guilty on May 14, 2021.

According to court documents, in December 2017 and February 2018, authorities in Bogota, Colombia seized multiple assault rifles and pistols that had been shipped from Tampa, Clearwater, and Kissimmee.

The firearms were concealed in packages containing household items. Law enforcement agencies in the United States traced some of the weapons and determined that most of them had been acquired in the Tampa area.

The agencies later discovered that Hernandez-Zuluaga had purchased and stored at least seven of the firearms before they were shipped to Colombia. Hernandez-Zuluaga transferred the firearms to his friend, Jhon Marin-Moreno, a dual citizen of the United States and Colombia, who arranged for their illegal export.

At the time, Hernandez-Zuluaga knew that Marin-Moreno was a convicted felon who could not possess firearms.

Marin-Moreno was charged separately and sentenced to three years and three months in federal prison.

“This criminal thought he could circumvent our nation’s firearms laws with his participation in this international weapons smuggling operation,” said HSI Tampa Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Cochran. “But thanks to the law enforcement partnership between HSI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, a criminal conspiracy has been stopped, making our local communities safer.”

“Collaboration with our law enforcement partners is essential in firearms trafficking investigations,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Craig W. Saier. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to detect, disrupt, and interdict illegal firearms trafficking schemes. This sentencing demonstrates that working jointly with HSI makes communities safer at home and abroad.”       

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, with assistance from Colombian authorities. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Scruggs.

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