LAREDO, Texas — A female illegal alien and a Texas man have been sent to prison for their confessed role in a complex gun straw purchasing and smuggling scheme for the Los Zetas cartel. The operation is believed to have successfully moved at least 25 weapons into Mexico.
This week, 35-year-old Claudia Raquel Herrera Ibarra from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas and 24-year-old Jonathan James Ruiz from Laredo, Texas, went before U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo who sentenced them to prison terms of five and seven years respectively. According to information provided to Breitbart Texas by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Herrera is expected to be deported after prison while Ruiz will face additional time under supervised release.
In July, Herrera pleaded guilty to being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm while Ruiz admitted to straw purchasing weapons. The two Los Zetas members explained their role in purchasing rifles and handguns from local stores in Laredo in order to have the weapons smuggled by others into Mexico.
During the sentencing hearing, Herrera asked for a lower sentence claiming to have been a minor participant in a large criminal enterprise, Judge Marmolejo denied the request stating that she had been a leading participant in a sophisticated operation, the information provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed.
Straw purchasing is a term used to describe the practice of using individuals with no prior criminal record to lie on federal background forms so they can purchase weapons for others.
Herrera recruited individuals with clean backgrounds to purchase firearms and pay them between $150 to $400 per weapon. Ruiz was one of the individuals who admitted to buying 25 weapons for Los Zetas.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.