Skip to main content
May 18, 2023McAllen, TX, United StatesFirearms, Ammunition and Explosives

Texas man pleads guilty to firearms offense in connection with murder of US citizens after HSI, federal partner investigation

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A South Texas man pleaded guilty to smuggling a firearm linked to a March 3 incident involving the murder and kidnapping of U.S. citizens in Matamoras, Mexico. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated the case.

Roberto Lugardo Moreno Jr., 42, of Harlingen, pleaded guilty to aiding the smuggling of a firearm into Mexico knowing it was intended for members of the Gulf Cartel.

According to court documents, HSI and law enforcement partners learned from Mexican authorities that a pistol Moreno purchased Oct. 17, 2019, was linked to the March 3 incident. The investigation revealed that Moreno obtained the firearm at a pawn shop in Brownsville. Moreno admitted to purchasing the firearm on behalf of another person. He knew the person was going to give the firearm to a Gulf Cartel figure in Mexico.

“These weapons often contribute to fueling the violence committed by drug cartels, which drastically affects communities both in Mexico and in the United States,” said HSI San Antonio acting Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee. “This investigation and prosecution highlight the fine work federal border security agencies perform each day, often behind the scenes and often unknown to the public. HSI will continue to aggressively investigate those who attempt to circumvent our nations customs law by concealing illicit goods destined to cross our borders.”

U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera will sentence Moreno on Aug. 9. Moreno faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

Moreno remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edgardo J. Rodriguez, Karen Betancourt, Israel Cano and Alejandra Andrade are prosecuting the case.

“All too often, firearms are trafficked into Mexico, where they end up in the hands of criminals who use them to murder, rob and extort innocent people,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. “Moreno helped smuggle a firearm for criminals he knew were in the Gulf Cartel, who then allegedly used it to murder and kidnap American citizens. This case is a textbook example of the dangers involved when criminals transport weapons into Mexico.”

HSI is the principal investigative arm of 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 more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 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: 05/18/2023