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Feds bust Mexican drug cartel grenade production operation in Texas

December 9, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Feds bust Mexican drug cartel grenade production operation in Texas

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Federal authorities apprehended one Mexican national and five Texas men for their reported roles in a grenade production operation intended to be smuggled to Mexican drug cartels.

On Tuesday, officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), working in conjunction with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, apprehended Pedro Vega, 40; Alfredo Rivera, 24; Celin Javier Montoya, 23; Anthony Ozuna, 20; and Noe Gonzalez, 19. Additionally, agents also arrested Jonathan Sanchez Torres, a 19-year-old illegal from Mexico.

The apprehensions come after an undercover probe where BATFE and HSI agents acted as customers for dozens of homemade grenades. The explosives were manufactured after the crew purportedly spent six months buying various items to fulfill the order from online merchants and local stores. The items purchased included fuses, grenade hulls, spring kits, and black powder, Valley Central reported.

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Alfredo Rivera and Anthony Ozuna are believed to have been the brokers of the grenades, while Gonzalez and Sanches Torres allegedly purchased the essential base items. The heads of the group are thought to have been Vega and Montoya.

In the Rio Grande Valley, Mexico’s Gulf Cartel has been the organization responsible for the majority of the illegal gun and explosive acquisitions. The cartel has been engaged in various wars with rival factions and the Los Zetas drug cartel. The need for weapons and homemade grenades has accelerated the criminal organization to develop a system for purchases smuggled from the U.S.

The process of building the weapons exhibits marked similarities to a case in 2009 where a cartel witch doctor in Texas produced 183 grenades that he then sold to undercover agents who acted as members of a drug cartel.

The Monitor reported that when officials raided the house of Ruben Ambrosio Fonzeca Jr., they discovered firearms, weapons, and a bloodstained altar with human remains, which was allegedly utilized to perform protection rituals for cartel associates.

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