BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A member of the notorious Gulf Cartel was sentenced to five years in federal prison Wednesday following his conviction for being an alien possessing a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney, Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.
This investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Luis Ivan Nino-Duenes, 28, of Control, Tamaulipas, Mexico, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Hilda G. Tagle who sentenced him to a 60-month prison term. The judge also ordered him to serve three years of supervised release after he completes his prison sentence.
Nino-Duenes pleaded guilty to the charges June 19, 2012, immediately before the jury selection for his trial.
According to court documents, during the week of trial, agents presented additional evidence that Nino-Durenes was a member of the Gulf Cartel for three years prior to his arrest, and an enforcer for Plaza Boss Jose Luis Zuniga-Hernandez. Evidence was also presented that while in jail Nino-Duenes joined the prison gang known at the "Partido Revolutionario Mijicano" (PRM). The court found that he obstructed justice by joining the PRM, and attempted to intimidate a witness.
At sentencing, Nino-Duenes argued that he did not join the PRM or obstruct justice. He argued that the federal sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of 21 months since he pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for his crime.
During sentencing Wednesday, Judge Tagle indicated the court would issue a non-guideline sentence, noting the defendant's flight from a gunfight in Mexico was an example of spill over violence. The court stated that "crime begins over there (Mexico) and ends over here (U.S)."
At the time of his guilty plea, Nino-Duenes admitted he had entered the United States illegally and that at the time of his arrest he possessed a customized gold, diamond- and ruby-encrusted Colt .38 Super handgun. A photo of the gun was introduced at the hearing.
Nino-Duenes has been in custody since his arrest Oct. 26, 2011, where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Angel Castro, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.