ALBUQUERQUE, NM – When authorities stopped an SUV in the heart of Mexico in June, they found several assault rifles hidden in the trunk. Authorities say the guns were purchased from gun stores in southern New Mexico and intended for a cartel embroiled in a territorial war 1,000 miles below the border.
Court records show that many of the weapons purchased by the alleged smuggling ring have not been recovered.
Jesus Barron-Barrios, 33 years old; his wife, Ana Barron 30 years old; Mayra Madrid; Madrid’s boyfriend, Jose Orona; and Victor Fierro-Caro are charged with an alleged conspiracy to export weapons legally purchased from members of the Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel who, according to court records, are “disputed territory” in Zacatecas, Mexico.
All four are in custody on charges of conspiring to export firearms from the United States to Mexico, misrepresentation in the acquisition of firearms, illegal trafficking in firearms, and possession of firearms. fire by a criminal.
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Monroe Roberts, owner of MR Arms in Las Cruces where four of the guns were purchased, said they obey the law when it comes to selling guns.
“We don’t just sell guns to just anybody… We check them out and they’re approved, and then we sell them a gun,” Roberts said. “… No one likes to see this kind of thing happen. It’s not just a stroke of the imagination.
Roberts said he couldn’t comment on the purchases because they received inquiries from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “all the time,” but agents never told them anything specific.
“Unfortunately, being as close to the border as we are, I’m sure these things are happening,” he said. Roberts later added: “How much of this happens we don’t know.”
At least 12 guns believed to have been purchased by the group between 2018 and 2021 had not been recovered by authorities.
According to a criminal complaint filed in the United States District Court:
On June 7, Mexican National Guard officers arrested a woman, a Mexican national, driving an SUV in Fresnillo, Mexico, and a dog found seven assault rifles and gun parts hidden in the interior.
The woman’s daughter was recorded driving the SUV to the United States via Columbus on June 4 and returning to Mexico the same day. When arrested in Fresnillo – 900 miles south of Columbus – the woman had her 13-year-old son in the SUV, who lived in Deming.
The Mexican National Guard told the ATF the guns were “destinations” for members of the CJNG cartel. ATF agents discovered that all of the guns were purchased by Ana Barron, Madrid or Fierro-Caro – often on the same day – and that all but one of the guns were purchased over a seven-day period at the end of May.
Officers believe there was a “strong indication” that the guns were bought for sale in Mexico and that the type of gun is “constantly in demand” by the cartels.
The owner of MR Arms told agents that Madrid and Fierro-Caro came within hours of each other on May 22 and bought two rifles each.
A confidential source told officers that over a six-month period he purchased five firearms – including two AK-47s – from MR Arms, DK Guns and Pawn in Silver City and Larry’s Pawn in Deming for Jesus Barron, also known as “The Italian.”
The man, who ATF says is a “prohibited firearm owner,” said he met Barron through a high school friend Orona, also known as “Pepe,” who lived in Palomas, Mexico.
The man said during an incident that he had a few beers with Jesus Barron and Orona in Palomas before Barron drove him, Orona and Madrid to MR Arms.
He told officers Jesus Barron gave him money to buy two rifles and, subsequently, Madrid entered and bought two rifles. The man said they were paid an additional $ 100 for each gun and that he knew the guns were found “further” in Mexico, but did not know who took them there.
Orona told officers Jesus Barron paid him $ 500 for driving the guns across the border from Columbus to Palomas. Officers found videos on the phone of the confidential source of himself, Orona and Jesus Barron drinking beers in a house.
Officers also found photos of the contraband guns and the floor and walls matched those seen in a photo posted by Ana Barron on Facebook. The man told officers he did not believe Ana Barron was involved in the gun smuggling.
Agents learned that between October 2018 and July 2019 Ana Barron purchased nine assault rifles and a pistol from DAM Ammo and Las Cruces Motorsports in Las Cruces.
It is not known what happened to these weapons or to these two AK-47 rifles purchased by Fierro-Caro in July 2021. Officers searched the Barrons’ home in Deming and found no weapons, but found grabbed five phones, a DVR, a laptop and a USB drive.