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Bringing Arms Traffickers To Justice

Bilateral cooperation between Mexico and the U.S. led to the arrests of indviduals fueling the drug cartel war.

Alejandro Medrano, a United States citizen, was sentenced to prison this month for his role in supplying weapons to the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico. A U.S. federal court judge in Tucson, Arizona, sentenced Medrano to 46 months in prison for his leadership role in a conspiracy involving 10 defendants who purchased firearms from gun dealers in Phoenix and Tucson for the purpose of supplying the arms to a member of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Another leader of the conspiracy, Hernan Ramos, also a U.S. citizen, was sentenced on July 6th to 50 months in prison. Most of the remaining defendants in the conspiracy received prison terms ranging from 14 to 30 months.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascural remarked: "We are pleased to see our bilateral cooperation and use of state-of-the-art technology has shut down the activities of this criminal group that had been collaborating with one of the most notorious drug trafficking organizations in Mexico."

The indictment stated that from February 2008 through November 2008, the ten defendants falsely represented that they were the actual purchasers of about112 firearms from federally licensed firearms dealers in the Phoenix and Tucson area, and transported the firearms into Mexico to sell to Sinaloa drug cartel member Javier Elenes Ruiz, also known as "Rambo."

"This case shows how illegal firearms purchases by straw [not legitimate] buyers in Phoenix and Tucson are fueling the drug cartel war," said United States Attorney Dennis Burke. "We are working aggressively with the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] and other federal agencies to stop this southbound flow of arms."

Following the indictment, further investigation by the ATF established that the defendants purchased approximately 117 firearms, predominately assault-style weapons, a 50 caliber rifle, and handguns known to be weapons of choice by the Mexican drug cartels. 15 of the guns have been recovered in Mexico. Using an Internet-based system known as eTrace, ATF agents were able to trace the arms back to their U.S. suppliers and bring them to justice.

Bill Newell, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Phoenix Field Division said, "This investigation is further proof of the relentless efforts by Mexican drug cartels to illegally acquire large quantities of firearms in the U.S. for use in the ongoing Mexican drug war."

The successful prosecution of the defendants is further proof of the determination of the United States to stop this deadly traffic.