A Montana man pleaded guilty Wednesday to buying firearms in Montana and selling them to individuals in Mexico.
Cristyan Jose Gonzalez-Carrillo, 37, of Bozeman, pleaded guilty to illegal export before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto.
According to court documents, an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) determined that from February 2020 to May 2020, Gonzalez-Carrillo purchased approximately 31 handguns. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Gonzalez-Carrillo’s residence in July 2020 and recovered firearms and ammunition, including semi-automatic handguns and AR style rifles. Receipts seized during the search were from multiple stores in Montana for the purchase of firearms during that period. In addition, the investigation determined that Gonzalez-Carrillo’s vehicle plate records would demonstrate multiple border crossings at San Ysidro, California, from April 2020 to June 2020. Investigators also learned that Gonzalez-Carrillo purchased and advertised firearms for sale on the platform WhatsApp and sold firearms to individuals in Mexico.
“Every day across America, the Department of Justice is fighting the twin epidemics of gun violence and drug poisoning that shatter our communities,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “To win that battle, we must root out and prosecute those who traffic illegal firearms to Mexico – where weapons end up in the hands of violent cartels that send deadly drugs back to the United States. Today’s guilty plea represents another step forward, but also a sobering reminder that the fight against cross-border firearms-trafficking is a nationwide challenge.”
“Buying guns in Montana and taking them to Mexico to sell is illegal,” said U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich for the District of Montana. “Fighting gun violence remains a top priority for our office and as today’s hearing showed, we will investigate and prosecute anyone who violates federal firearms laws.”
“Preventing unlawful firearms trafficking is a top priority of the ATF,” said ATF Director Steven Dettelbach. “Whether the unlawful trafficking is destined for a gang in the United States or a cartel in Mexico, we will work with our partners to stop it and hold accountable those who violate our nation’s firearms laws.”
Gonzalez-Carrillo faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. Sentencing is set for Feb. 15, 2024, before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Gonzalez-Carrillo was detained pending further proceedings.
ATF investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara J. Elliott for the District of Montana is prosecuting the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.