A judge sentenced several Mexican cartel operatives living in the U.S. illegally to prison for a failed kidnapping that turned into a rolling gun battle in North Texas. The gunmen used automatic AK-47s and AR-15s to shoot at police in their effort to escape custody.
The case began in July 2016 when 23-year-old Melissa Trevino, Jose Cardenas Aguirre, and Javier Martinez, all illegal aliens from Mexico, planned to kidnap a man identified in court documents as RG. The drug cartel ordered the kidnapping due to an unpaid debt. Court documents obtained by Breitbart Texas revealed that the cartel cell led by Martinez moved kilogram quantities of heroin from Mexico in the South Dallas area.
While court documents do not identify which cartel the cell belonged to, a previously published DEA report revealed that the Sinaloa Cartel is the cartel with the most influence in the area. Other cartels that operate in the region include the Beltran Leyva Cartel, Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas Cartel.
In an effort to collect the drug debt the group wore body armor, tactical clothing and used a fully-automatic AK-47 and two AR-15’s. Court documents revealed that the group tried to wipe fingerprints off the bullets before loading them into the weapons.
On the day of the kidnapping, the group failed in their effort to kidnap RG from an undisclosed location in the Dallas suburb of Ennis, Texas. The gunmen attempted to escape following the botched kidnapping. Police officers chased the gunmen and during the chase, the group fired their weapons at law enforcement.
The FBI and Ennis Police identified six members of the cartel cell and obtained a criminal indictment in August 2016. Since then, police arrested five of the cartel members who subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges.
This week, Melissa Treviño went before U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle who sentenced her to 17 years in prison and six months for her role in the cartel kidnapping operation.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, earlier this month, the judge sentenced cell leader Javier Martinez to 480 months in federal prison. His father, Indolfo Martinez, received a 64-month sentence in federal prison. Last month, the judge sentenced Jose Cardenas Aguirre to 324 months in federal prison, while Maria Guadalupe Bello received an 18-month federal prison sentence.
After their prison sentences are concluded, the cartel members face extradition. Authorities continue to look for Jonathan Benitez who remains a fugitive in the case.
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.