TUCSON, Arizona — Two illegal aliens from Mexico working as armed cartel scouts were sent to prison on smuggling and weapons charges.
This week, Jose Abelardo Guzman Perez went before Chief U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins for Arizona, who sentenced him to more than eight years in prison for his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy and armed struggle with federal law enforcement. Guzman’s accomplice, Lorenzo Infante Ortiz, previously pleaded guilty to similar charges and is serving a three-year prison sentence.
According to information provided to Breitbart Texas by the U.S Attorney’s Office, the charges stem from a September 2016 drug smuggling attempt where the two scouted into Arizona for a Mexican drug cartel. The men were sent ahead two or three days in advance to secure the routes used by smugglers.
At the time of their arrest, Guzman carried an AK-47 rifle and a .45 caliber pistol, while Infante Ortiz carried an AR-15 and a 9mm sidearm. The pair claimed that the weapons were intended to defend themselves against drug rip crews. In addition to the weapons, the cartel scouts also carried backpacks with approximately 88 pounds of marijuana inside.
On the day of the arrest, U.S. Border Patrol cameras spotted the cartel gunmen move deeper into Arizona. A law enforcement aircraft spotted the men asleep near a brush area with their rifles close to their hands. Using night vision lenses, tactical border patrol agents crept up on the two cartel smugglers to arrest them. Infante Ortiz tried to run away but was arrested; Guzman, on the other hand, reached for his AK-47 but was tackled by one of the agents. The two men fought and fell off the cliff. The agent suffered a dislocated shoulder but managed to hold on to Guzman as the man tried to escape. Guzman violently assaulted the agent by punching and kicking him until he managed to escape but fell several times down the nearby cliffs. Guzman tried to run away but other agents arrested him.
Breitbart Texas recently published exclusive photographs that revealed the ease with which cartel smugglers are able to enter the country while carrying various assault weapons. The area where the arrest of the two scouts took place is one that is directly north of a region that sees constant conflict between two rival factions of the Sinaloa Cartel. Known as Los Salazar and Los Memos, the cells fight violently over drug trafficking routes. North of the border in Arizona, heavily armed cartel-linked groups called rip crews roam the areas looking to steal drugs from rival smugglers. Law enforcement officials revealed to Breitbart Texas that rip crew members and scouts are usually illegal aliens living in Phoenix and Tucson who deploy to the desert area and mountain regions when called.
On December 2014, an encounter with a rip crew led to the fatal shooting of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Breitbart Texas reported. Some of the weapons used in the fatal shooting were later traced to a gun-walking operation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives that allowed scores of weapons to be sold to Mexican drug cartels.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)