Trio sentenced for attempting to smuggle guns to Mexico

Two illegal immigrants and a third man were sentenced to prison Thursday for plotting to send semi-automatic assault rifles to Mexico.

Doraville residents Daniel Bernal-Perez, 36, and Dario Rodriguez-Gomez, 29, were sentenced on charges of being illegal immigrants in possession of firearms, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. They were also sentenced, along with Manuel Gamez-Valenzuela, 46, of Atlanta, in the scheme to ship weapons to Mexico.

According to court testimony, federal agents learned from a confidential source that Bernal-Perez, acting on behalf of Gamez-Valenzuela, was attempting to acquire eight to 10 semi-automatic rifles. Rodriguez-Gomez transported the guns to Bernal-Perez's residence, prosecutors said.

Agents obtained warrants for the Doraville home after observing a meeting between the three suspects on Jan. 31, 2010. Their search turned up four semi-automatic assault rifles, with large capacity magazines attached.

"These individuals conspired to funnel dangerous weapons to Mexico, further contributing [to] the violent activity that is taking place along the Southwest border," said Brock Nicholson, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta's office.

Bernal-Perez was sentenced to seven years, Rodriguez-Gomez to three years, and Gamez-Valenzuela to two years. All three will be deported upon completion of their sentences, the U.S. Attorney said.