McALLEN, Texas — Six bomb makers offering grenades to Mexico’s Gulf Cartel were sent to prison for their roles in building explosives and smuggling wares south. Before their arrests, the group sold 50 grenades to cartel operatives and obtained components to make hundreds more.
During a sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced 40-year-old Pedro Vega Genova to 20 years in prison and 19-year-old Noe Gonzalez to more than 16 years for their roles in the manufacture of the grenades. Judge Alvarez also sentenced 23-year-old Celin Javier Montoya Rodriguez, 24-year-old Alfredo Rivera, and 20-year-old Jonathan Sanchez Torres to 10 years in prison for their roles in the conspiracy; 20-year-old Anthony Ozuna received an 8-year prison sentence.
While most of the cartel bomb makers were from Texas, Jonathan Sanchez Torres is an illegal alien from Mexico, and Montoya Rodriguez is a lawful permanent resident, also originally from Mexico.
The case began in November 2016 when agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms began an undercover operation after receiving information from an informant about a group selling grenades for $450 apiece, court records revealed. During the operation, the ATF informant and agents purchased 10 grenades for $4,500 and agreed to make future purchases. The members of the criminal organization also claimed to have access to body armor and other weapons. During the investigation, the bomb makers made other sales to federal agents before their arrests in December. The bomb makers pleaded guilty.
The Rio Grande Valley has a history of Mexican cartel operatives taking part in the underground trade of explosive devices. In 2015, federal authorities found another cartel-connected group that manufactured grenades for Mexican criminal organizations, Breitbart Texas reported. Just south of the Rio Grande Valley, two rival factions of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel are waging a fierce war for control of lucrative territories. The fighting led to multiple firefights and grenade attacks throughout the Mexican border city of Reynosa.
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.
Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.