Two Texas men and a Mexican national are facing federal money laundering and weapons conspiracy charges for their attempt to purchase $500,000 in RPGs, grenades, and machine guns on behalf of the Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zetas.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, federal authorities arrested 43-year-old Luis Ramos from Rio Bravo, Texas, on Tuesday and is expected to go before a judge in the near future. Officials previously arrested Manuel Perez Ortiz, 39, from Mexico, and Arturo Mata, 55, from Rio Bravo.
The charges against the men and possibly other individuals point to an attempt by the CDN-Los Zetas to straw-purchase $500,000-worth of grenades, machine guns, and RPGs in the U.S. for smuggling to Mexico. Prosecutors claim that the violent cartel planned to use the weapons in battles against rivals to further their smuggling activities.
The CDN-Los Zetas sent Perez-Ortiz from Mexico to Laredo, Texas, for negotiations. Ramos and Mata allegedly drove Perez Ortiz to and from the meetings and carried out counter-surveillance. On June 19, authorities arrested Perez Ortiz during a traffic stop and found $500,000 in cash inside the vehicle, a criminal complaint filed in federal court revealed.
Perez Ortiz reportedly told authorities that the money was from the sale of a ranch and he had crossed the river with the cash in order to build a house in Laredo.
The CDN-Los Zetas is now one of Mexico’s most violent cartels and operate with almost complete impunity in Nuevo Laredo, Nuevo Leon, where they use armored vehicles with mounted machine guns and artillery to fight off rivals and military forces.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at email@example.com.