Cartels’ Gun Buyer Going to Prison | Courthouse News Service
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Cartels’ Gun Buyer Going to Prison

VICTORIA, Texas (CN) - A 26-year-old Texan was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for smuggling guns into Mexico for drug cartels, federal prosecutors said.

Saul Salinas Salazar of Pasadena pleaded guilty to gun smuggling and making false statements about gun purchases in July 2011, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement announcing his sentence.

Salinas "was responsible for at least seven other individuals" who bought guns for him to smuggle into Mexico for the Zeta Criminal Organization and Gulf Cartel, prosecutors said.

Salinas and his cronies bought more than 60 guns, most of them AR-15 rifles, from November 2009 to January 2010, prosecutors said.

"In March 2010, two more weapons purchased by this organization were seized and identified by the Mexican authorities in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, as used in shootouts with the Mexican Marines and Los Zetas Drug Cartel, during which 14 people were reported to be killed," according to prosecutors' statement.

Five other members of Salinas' organization also were sentenced with him: Jose Santos Maldonado, 27; Tomas Garza, 29; and Carlos Castro Jr., 22, all of Pasadena; and Rogelio Benito Villarreal III, 23; and David Miranda, 24, both of Houston.

"Maldonado was sentenced to 21 months in prison, while Garza, Castro, Villarreal and Miranda will serve varying terms of probations for their respective roles in the organization," prosecutors said.

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