Marco Antonio Santillan Valencia, 51, a Los Angeles-area resident, led the gun trafficking organization and funded the weapons and ammo purchases for the Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel with drug proceeds, las autoridades dijeron.
A federal indictment named Santillan along with his son, Marco Santillan Jr., 29, of Pahrump, Nevada; Anthony Marmolejo Aguilar, 30; Michael Diaz, 33; Luis De Arcos, 51; and Rafael Magallon Castillo, 34, all California residents.
They are charged with violating export laws by smuggling weapons and attempted smuggling.
“This case alleges a scheme to provide military-grade firepower to a major drug trafficking organization that commits unspeakable acts of violence in Mexico to further its goal of flooding the United States with dangerous and deadly narcotics,” NOSOTROS. Attorney Tracy Wilkison said in a statement.
Aguilar is in police custody in North Carolina on separate charges and Castillo is believed to be hiding in Mexico. La semana pasada, Santillan, De Arcos and Diaz pleaded not guilty and are expected to stand trial in March. Santillan Jr., is expected to appear for an arraignment in Los Angeles on Feb. 2.
Federal prosecutors allege that the suspects obtained the firearms in Oregon and Nevada and consolidated the shipments before sending them to Mexico. They also allegedly purchased ammunition from various states to be delivered to a stash house in Nevada.
They also allegedly purchased thousands of rounds of .50 caliber armor-piercing rounds in Arizona. To conceal the purchases, sometimes they anonymously ordered pallets of bullets, las autoridades dijeron. The scheme began in March 2020 and operated for a year.
“The defendants in this case smuggled sophisticated weaponry out of the United States to one of the most violent cartels in Mexico whose members target not only rival gangs, but innocent Mexican citizens and Mexican law enforcement,” said Kristi K. Johnson, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
En mayo 26, 2020, Santillan Jr., allegedly informed someone in a Facebook message that members of the “Mencho’s cartel” – referring to Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, who leads the feared CJNG cartel – were “buying everything.”
Más tarde ese día, he sent a video of himself holding a stack of $ 100 bills and saying the “sale of firearms to the CJNG was profitable.”.
During the operation, authorities seized six assault rifles, más que 250,000 rounds of assault rifle ammunition and more than $ 300,000 in weapon parts and kits to assemble “mini-guns.” Those weapons comprised six-barrel rotary machine guns capable of firing up to 6,000 rounds per minute, los fiscales dijeron
The Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel has made itself known for its brutal and indiscriminate tactics. En diciembre 2020, the Elite Group, an enforcement arm of the cartel, chopped off the hands of three people, including a pregnant woman.
The group also commits kidnappings, assassinations and other acts of hostility against its rivals and anyone deemed a threat.