Note: Don't find too many of these at our local gun stores or gun
May 3, 11:11 AM EDT
ATF says drug cartels looking to US for firepower
PHOENIX (AP) -- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives says the arrest of three people for attempting to purchase
missiles and other weapons shows that criminal organizations and drug
cartels based in Mexico continue to look to the U.S.as a source of
The government said Monday a Mexican man who tried to buy an anti-
aircraft missile and other military weapons for the Sinaloa drug
cartel has pleaded guilty in federal court in Phoenix.
The U.S. attorney's office says a Mexican woman who delivered 4-1/2
pounds of methamphetamine as partial payment for the deal also
entered a guilty plea. A jury found a second man who delivered meth
as payment guilty of drug distribution charges.
The convictions announced by the U.S. Attorney for Arizona stem from
a sting operation federal agents set up in 2009.
Man pleads guilty in Ariz. drugs-for-missile case
The Associated Press | Posted: Monday, May 2, 2011 5:20 pm | Comments
PHOENIX — A Mexican man who tried to buy an anti-aircraft missile and
other military weapons for the Sinaloa drug cartel has pleaded guilty
in federal court in Phoenix.
The U.S. attorney's office said Monday that a Mexican woman who
delivered 4-1/2 pounds of methamphetamine as partial payment for the
deal also entered a guilty plea. A jury found a second man who
delivered meth as payment guilty of drug distribution charges.
The convictions announced on Monday by U.S. Attorney for Arizona
Dennis Burke stem from a sting operation federal agents set up in 2009.
David Diaz-Sosa of Sinaloa arranged to buy a Stinger missile, anti-
tank rockets and other weapons from federal agents posing as weapons
dealers. The 26-year-old pleaded guilty last month and faces a
mandatory 25-year prison term.
Office of Dennis K. Burke, United States Attorney for the District of
Monday, May 2, 2011
Guilty Pleas for Two Mexican Nationals in Conspiracy to Acquire
"Stinger" Missile and Other Military-Grade Weapons
A Third Defendant Found Guilty at Trial of Possessing Over 10 Pounds
PHOENIX – Two Mexican nationals have pleaded guilty and a third has
been found guilty by a jury in recent days for their roles in a
conspiracy to trade drugs and cash for military-grade weapons --
including a Stinger anti-aircraft missile – for use by Sinaloan drug
cartels. The defendants were arrested in late 2009 as part of a multi-
agency joint undercover operation known as Operation White Gun.
David Diaz-Sosa, 26, of Sinaloa, Mexico, pleaded guilty on April 19,
2011, to one count of Conspiracy to Acquire and Export an Anti-
Aircraft Missile, one count of Conspiracy to Possess Unregistered
Firearms (Machine Guns), and Transfer Firearms for Use in a Drug
Trafficking Crime, one count of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to
Distribute Methamphetamine, and one count of Possession with Intent
to Distribute Methamphetamine for his role in conspiring to acquire,
transfer and export military-grade weaponry to a Mexican drug
trafficking organization. He is set to be sentenced before U.S.
District Court Judge James Teilborg on August 1, 2011.
Emilia Palomino-Robles, 42 of Sonora, Mexico, entered a guilty plea
on April 13 to one count of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to
Distribute over 500 grams of Methamphetamine for her role as a
courier delivering both 2,029 grams of actual pure methamphetamine
and $139,900 to be used as a partial payment for the military-grade
weaponry, that was ultimately destined for export and transfer to the
Republic of Mexico, and a Mexican drug trafficking organization. Her
sentencing is set before Judge Teilborg on July 25, 2011.
Finally, a federal jury in Phoenix last week found Jorge DeJesus-
Casteneda, 22, of Sinaloa, Mexico, guilty of Possession with Intent
to Distribute 500 grams of more of Methamphetamine (11.8 pounds).
DeJesus-Casteneda was arrested while delivering methamphetamine that
Defendant Diaz-Sosa intended to use as a partial down payment to
complete a military-grade weapons deal. The case was tried before
Judge Teilborg on April 19, 2011. The defendant being held or
remanded after trial. His sentencing is set for July 25, 2011.
"It is a chilling thought that warring Mexican drug cartels are
actively seeking military-grade anti-aircraft missiles and explosives
in Arizona, so I am extremely proud of the work this office and our
law enforcement partners have done to uncover and stop this
particular scheme," said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. "This was a
complex investigation – a tremendous team effort – that put a stop to
a well-financed criminal conspiracy to acquire massive destructive
In late 2009, David Diaz-Sosa, a weapons and narcotics broker, began
negotiating the purchase of high-powered, military-grade weapons for
the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, the largest of the Mexican Drug Cartels.
Shortly after the weapons negotiations began, Diaz-Sosa arranged for
the delivery of 4.5 pounds methamphetamine to serve as a down payment
for the weapons. Emilia Palomino-Robles made that initial delivery on
behalf of Diaz-Sosa. For approximately the next three months, Diaz-
Sosa and his partners negotiated with undercover federal agents for
the purchase of the following weapons: A Dragon Fire anti-tank
weapon; two AT-4s (an 84-mm unguided, portable, single-shot
recoilless smoothbore weapon); a Law Rocket (a Light Anti-Tank
Weapon); a Stinger Missile (a portable infrared homing anti-aircraft
surface-to-air missile); two Def Tech grenade launchers and a dozen
40 mm grenades; one M-60 machine gun; one .30 caliber machine gun;
and three cases of hand grenades. As these negotiations continued,
Diaz-Sosa and his associates agreed to exchange both cash and
methamphetamine as a final payment for the weapons. On February 17,
2010, Diaz-Sosa went to an undercover warehouse maintained by the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to finalize the
weapons exchange at which time Diaz-Sosa and DeJesus-Castenada were
taken into custody by federal agents. At the time of his arrest,
DeJesus-Castenada was responsible for possessing with the intent to
deliver over 11 pounds of methamphetamine. Later that same day,
Palomino-Robles was arrested in possession of $139,900, which was
determined to be additional portion of the weapons payment.
"The guilty pleas and conviction resulting from this investigation
were the result of the highly successful joint effort by ATF, DEA,
DCIS, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona,"
said Janice M. Flores, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Defense
Criminal Investigative Service Southwest Field Office. "The efforts
of this law enforcement team, along with the courage and
determination of the law enforcement agents, prevented military-grade
weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, from falling
into the hands of a Mexican drug cartel. I believe that speaks
volumes regarding the importance and impact of this investigation."
"It is clear that criminal organizations and drug cartels based in
Mexico continue to look towards the United States as a source of
supply for firearms and in this case military grade weapons such as;
grenades, machine guns, and Man-Portable Air Defense Systems
(MANPADS)," said ATF Special Agent in Charge Thomas Brandon. "The
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives remains resolutely
committed to work with its law enforcement partners to disrupt
networks involved in the illegal trafficking and distribution of
weapons and narcotics," said This decision sends a clear message of
the federal government's commitment to keeping Americans safe. Today,
through the well-coordinated effort of all involved agencies,
dangerous weapons have been kept out of the hands of those who could
turn those weapons against the United States."
DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge, Doug Coleman added, "Drug cartels
use violence and intimidation to perpetuate their criminal activities
and prey upon the weakness of others. The guilty pleas and
convictions in this investigation are yet another example of how DEA
and its law enforcement partners will never relent in using every
tool at our disposal to bring these criminals to justice, and make
them pay for the damage and destruction they cause to society."
A conviction for Conspiracy to Acquire and Export an Anti-Aircraft
Missile carries a maximum penalty of life, a $2 million fine or both.
This charge additionally carries a minimum mandatory term of 25
years. A conviction for of Conspiracy to Possess Unregistered
Firearms (Machine Guns), and Transfer Firearms for Use in a Drug
Trafficking Crime carries a maximum penalty of 5 years, a $250,000
fine or both. A conviction for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to
Distribute 500 grams or more of Methamphetamine carries a maximum
penalty of life, a $4 million fine or both. This charge additionally
carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years. Finally, a conviction for
Possession with Intent to Distribute 500 grams or more of
Methamphetamine carries a maximum penalty of life, a $4 million fine
or both. This charge also carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10
years. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Teilborg will consult
the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing
ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in
determining a sentence.
The investigation leading to the convictions in this case was
conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives;
the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Defense Criminal
Investigative Service. The prosecution was handled by Josh Patrick
Parecki, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix and
Robert J. Sander, Trial Attorney, Counterterrorism Section, National
Security Division, Department of Justice.
CASE NUMBER: CR10-0322-PHX-JAT
RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-078(White Gun)