A 42-year-old Harlingen resident has pleaded guilty to smuggling a firearm linked to the March 3 incident involving the murder and kidnapping of U.S. Citizens in Matamoras, Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Roberto Lugardo Moreno Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday to aiding the smuggling of a firearm into Mexico knowing it was intended for members of the Gulf Cartel.
Law enforcement learned from Mexican authorities that a pistol Moreno purchased Oct. 17, 2019, was linked to the March 3 incident. The investigation revealed Moreno had obtained the firearm at a pawn shop in Brownsville. Moreno admitted to purchasing the firearm on behalf of another person he knew was going to provide it to a Gulf Cartel figure in Mexico.
“All too often, firearms are trafficked into Mexico where they end up in the hands of criminals who use them to murder, rob and extort innocent people,” said Hamdani. “Moreno helped smuggle a firearm for criminals he knew were in the Gulf Cartel who then allegedly used it to murder and kidnap American citizens. This case is a textbook example of the dangers involved when criminals transport weapons into Mexico.”
U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera will impose sentencing Aug. 9. At that time, Moreno faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
He has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation with the assistance of the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edgardo J. Rodriguez, Karen Betancourt, Israel Cano and Alejandra Andrade are prosecuting the case.