McALLEN, Texas — Federal authorities have arrested five Texas men and one Mexican national for their alleged roles in the manufacturing of grenades destined for Mexican drug cartels.
On Tuesday, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 40-year-old Pedro Vega, 24-year-old Alfredo Rivera, 23-year-old Celin Javier Montoya, 20-year-old Anthony Ozuna, and 19-year-old Noe Gonzalez, information provided to Breitbart Texas by the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed. Authorities also arrested 19-year-old Jonathan Sanchez Torres, a 19-year-old illegal alien from Mexico.
The arrests come after an undercover investigation where BATFE and HSI agents posed as buyers for dozens of homemade grenades. The explosives were made after the group allegedly spent six months purchasing various items to complete the order from local stores and online merchants, information from the DOJ revealed. The items reportedly purchased included grenade hulls, spring kits, fuses, and black powder.
Anthony Ozuna and Alfredo Rivera are believed to have been the alleged brokers of the grenades, while Gonzalez and Sanches Torres are believed to have been the men purchasing the necessary base items. The leaders of the group are believed to have been Vega and Montoya, information provided by the DOJ noted.
In the area known as the Rio Grande Valley, Mexico’s Gulf Cartel has been the criminal organization responsible for the bulk of illegal firearm and explosive purchases. The cartel has been fighting various wars with rival factions and the Los Zetas. The demand for weapons and homemade grenades has pushed the criminal organization to develop a network for purchases trafficked from the United States.
The method of building the grenades bears striking similarities to a 2009 case where a cartel witch doctor in San Juan, Texas manufactured 183 grenades that he then sold to undercover officers who posed as cartel members. According to The Monitor, when authorities raided the house of Ruben Ambrosio Fonzeca Jr., they found weapons, firearms, and a bloodstained altar with human remains believed to have been used to perform protection rituals for cartel allies.