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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit
08/27/2014

Member of the Zeta Cartel organization sentenced in conspiracy to smuggle firearms, grenades into Mexico

LAREDO, Texas — A South Texas man, who is a member of the Zeta Cartel organization, was sentenced Wednesday for being a felon in possession of multiple firearms and grenades, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in coordination with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Laredo Police Department.

Richard John Medina, aka "El Guero," 40, of Laredo, appeared before U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana, who accepted his guilty plea and handed Medina a 93-month prison sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, an ATF agent testified how Medina illegally smuggled firearms and grenades into Mexico for the Zeta Cartel. During the sentencing, Judge Saldana remarked how Medina's actions encouraged violence on the border and that he was a career criminal. Medina pleaded guilty Dec. 10, 2013.

According to court documents, on Oct. 9, 2013, Medina was arrested at his Laredo residence in possession of five firearms and five grenades. As part of the plea, Medina admitted he attempted to traffic and export these items from the United States into Mexico, exclusively for the Mexican Zeta Cartel.

Medina was hired to export the weapons for $2,500. Medina was to receive half the payment up front, with the remainder paid upon delivery of the weapons to a Zeta Cartel house in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. On Oct. 9, 2013, Medina received the weapons and was subsequently arrested in the United States. Investigation revealed Medina was a convicted felon and did not have permission under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations to export these military defense weapons.

Medina will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sanjeev Bhasker and Homero Ramirez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.