Cartel Del Noreste arms dealer sentenced to prison

A man who wanted to smuggle two .50 caliber rifles for the Cartel Del Noreste has been sentenced to prison, according to court documents.

Manuel Dominguez, 30, of Laredo, had pleaded guilty on August 12 to a felon in possession of a firearm. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana sentenced Dominguez to 87 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.

“During the hearing, the judge noted Dominguez’s violent criminal history, the stash of weapons and ammunition in his home, and the fact that he was attempting to smuggle high-powered rifles into Mexico,” said the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

Dominguez was arrested following an undercover operation that took place on May 25. A buyer in Mexico had sent Dominguez to pick up two Barrett .50 caliber rifles from the Home Depot at 5710 San Bernardo Ave. Dominguez arrived on the scene driving a Ford Mustang.

He parked next to the undercover officer’s vehicle. Dominguez inspected the guns and provided three batteries of $9,900, wrapped in rubber bands. Dominguez was arrested after loading the first gun in the back seat of his car. A search of his residence revealed more firearms and more than 6,000 cartridges.

“The guns were intended for members of Cartel De (Noreste), a violent drug cartel in Mexico,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

Dominguez was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on December 16, 2010 in the 406th District Court in Webb County. He was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law. Dominguez was allowed to remain on bond and report voluntarily to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Homeland Security Investigations and the Laredo Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony J. Evans and Brandon Bowling prosecuted the case.

“This successful case is the result of the constant efforts of HSI Special Agents to prevent firearms from falling into the hands of transnational criminal organizations that pose a threat to public safety at home and abroad,” said Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, HSI- San Antonio. “We will continue to work with our domestic and international law enforcement partners in this effort.”

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