Band of Texas Smugglers Caught Feeding Guns to Mexican Cartels

by Tommy Grant

Next Post Coming Soon…▶

The Justice Department apprehended five individuals across Texas for their involvement in purchasing firearms illicitly and facilitating their transfer to drug cartels in Mexico. This operation, as reported by The Texas Tribune, was announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.

At the heart of the operation was Gerardo Rafael Perez Jr. from Laredo, who, according to a superseding indictment filed this month, orchestrated the acquisition of over 100 firearms with the aim of smuggling them into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Alongside Perez, Francisco Alejandro Benavides, Mark Anthony Trevino Jr., Luis Matias Leal, and Antonio Osiel Casarez were arrested, highlighting a coordinated effort to support criminal enterprises across the border.

The DOJ said the crackdown underscores the recent legislative measures taken to combat such activities, notably through the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The act outlined criminal offenses for “straw purchasing” — the act of buying firearms on behalf of individuals prohibited from owning them or who wishing to avoid direct association with the purchase — and for smuggling firearms across the U.S.-Mexico border. Both of those activities however, were already illegal prior to the act.

The indictment sheds light on the sophistication and scale of this operation. It mentions seven co-defendants alongside Perez, involved in the procurement and smuggling of so-called “military-grade” weaponry, including high-powered rifles and armaments typically associated with cartel violence and power struggles. These firearms, such as the FNH SCAR rifles and Barrett .50 caliber rifles, are prized by Mexican drug cartels for their firepower and status symbol, enhancing their capacity for violence and territorial control.

Jose Emigdio Q. Mendoza is specifically accused of selling arms to Perez and his circle without a license, receiving about $170,000 from December 2022 to March 2023 for weapons sourced from federally licensed sellers. The indictment also accuses Mendoza of tampering with firearm transaction records.

Also named in the indictment are Gerardo Antonio Ibarra Jr. and Gerardo Corona Jr., who were involved in earlier phases of the investigation. They reportedly purchased rifles under false pretenses, claiming to be the legitimate buyers when the weapons were actually intended for Mexico.

Next Post Coming Soon…▶

Read the full article here

Related Posts