As a result of an investigation that began in 2015, the last of a total of 21 defendants was convicted this week in federal court for smuggling weapons into Mexico.
The leader of the organization, Edgar Vega-Barreras, 30, a Mexican citizen, was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States, and was sentenced to five years’ prison. The sentences for the other convicted conspirators range from probation to five years in prison.
The convictions were the result of a joint investigation between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), that began in 2015. Nineteen adults and two juveniles received sentences that ranged from probation to five years’ prison for their roles in this large criminal organization.
In October 2015, ATF received information that several assault rifles and large-capacity magazines were seized in Mexico, and determined that the weapons were purchased by individuals in Arizona. Over the next five months, agents identified a total of 24 participants in a weapons-smuggling conspiracy that was responsible for the acquisition of at least 70 firearms and 75,000 rounds of ammunition intended to be unlawfully exported into Mexico. Several of the conspirators purchased the weapons, while others provided money and vehicles, and others transported the weapons within Arizona and across the International Border into Mexico.