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August 3, 2022Harlingen, TX, United StatesFirearms, Ammunition and Explosives

Former Gulf Cartel leader’s son admits to moving assault weapons into Mexico following HSI, federal partner investigation

HARLINGEN, Texas – The son of a former high-ranking Gulf Cartel leader pleaded guilty to smuggling assault weapons from the United States into Mexico following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents assigned to Harlingen and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

On Aug. 2, Osiel Cardenas Jr., 30, from Brownsville, admitted he attempted to purchase 10 assault rifles to export into Mexico. Cardenas is the son of Osiel Cardenas-Guillen, the former head of the Gulf Cartel who was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.

According to court documents, on April 22, 2021, Cardenas and others attempted to purchase five AK-47 type rifles and five AR-15 type rifles. The undercover operation took place in a Brownsville store parking lot. Cardenas had instructed another individual to cross into Mexico to pick up the $15,000 for the weapons and to inform him when the weapons transaction had been completed. Cardenas further admitted he committed the crime while on supervised release for a previous felony.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr. has set sentencing for Nov. 8. At that time, Cardenas faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. Cardenas remains in custody pending that hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elena Salinas, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 86 overseas locations in 55 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 08/03/2022