In San Antonio, 37-year-old Jesus Carmona of San Antonio received 101 months in federal prison for his role in a drug distribution and firearms smuggling operation announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Robert Elder, Houston Division, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala, San Antonio Division and San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.
During yesterday’s sentencing hearing, United States District Judge Xavier Rodriguez sentenced Carmona to 41 months incarceration for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and 60 months incarceration for possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
Charges against Carmona and nine other individuals stem from parallel investigations by ATF, HSI and SAPD which focused on firearms straw purchasing, violent gang activity and drug trafficking by members and associates of the Duffle Bag Mafia in San Antonio.
On September 26, 2013, Carmona pleaded guilty to the charges, admitting that he supplied co-defendants marijuana and cocaine in exchange for firearms. According to court records, one of those firearms, an AK-47 assault rifle, was previously used by 25-year-old Arnoldo Lopez (a.k.a. “Looney”), a member of the Duffle Bag Mafia, in a drive-by shooting on April 1, 2012, that resulted in the death of Joshua Arturo Pagan and Anthony Guevarro. That firearm was subsequently smuggled to the Los Zetas cartel in Mexico.
Last month, Lopez was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for various drug and firearms offenses. On September 5, 2013, Lopez pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute “crack” cocaine, possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime and six counts of making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm. According to court records, on October 4, 2012, Lopez and others were apprehended by the San Antonio Police Department Gang Unit while in possession of distributable quantities of “crack” cocaine as well as four firearms including one assault rifle, two shotguns and a semi-automatic pistol. Prior to his arrest, HSI agents were investigating a firearms straw purchasing operation wherein Lopez directed other individuals to purchase dozens of firearms under false pretenses. The weapons purchased included AK-47 and AR-15 type assault rifles which were destined for the Los Zetas cartel.
On August 7, 2014, 33-year-old Yolanda Hernandez was sentenced to 75 months incarceration after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute “crack” cocaine and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
On February 26, 2014, 31-year-old Michael Gutierrez was sentenced to 248 months in federal prison for his role in the drug distribution scheme. Six co-defendants in the firearms straw purchasing scheme have been sentenced to terms ranging from three years probation to 57 months in federal prison.
“This investigation is an outstanding example of where cooperative efforts of ATF, HSI, and the San Antonio Police Department can lead. Anytime we get criminals of this magnitude off the streets is a good day for our citizens,” stated ATF SAC Robert Elder.
“Those who engage in and/or facilitate the straw purchasing and smuggling of weaponry, and related items, will face serious consequences. HSI, ATF, and our law enforcement partners are dedicated to making communities safer by bringing violent criminals to justice and preventing or seizing firearms before they fall into the hands of transnational criminal organizations who pose a threat to public safety both here and abroad,” stated HSI SAC Janice Ayala.
“The best police work in the world is all for naught without a successful prosecution. We thank all of our law enforcement partners for the teamwork, and we thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their guidance and hard work. This criminal organization repeatedly demonstrated their total disregard for the law and we are proud to be part of the effort to dismantle them and bring them to justice,” stated San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.
Assistant United States Attorneys Russell Leachman and Bettina Richardson prosecuted these cases on behalf of the Government.