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Three sentenced in Laredo smuggling case involving high-powered rifle to Los Zetas Cartel

July 5, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Three sentenced in Laredo smuggling case involving high-powered rifle to Los Zetas Cartel

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Three people who were busted in a conspiracy to smuggle a high-powered rifle into Mexico for the Los Zetas cartel have been sentenced in a federal court in Laredo.

U.S. Senior District Court Judge George P. Kazen sentenced San Juana Guadalupe Zebadua, Fidencio “Pononia” Ortiz, and Johnathan Sifuentes to serve 18 to 20 months behind bars for their roles in purchasing and smuggling the firearm.

Zebadua pleaded guilty in 2016 to providing false statements in a firearms transaction. Ortiz and Sifuentes pleaded guilty to smuggling goods from the U.S, according to The Laredo Morning-Times.

Carlos Reyes-Jaimes, who also goes by Jesse Barrientos, was indicted and pleaded guilty to the smuggling charge. Although he was initially set to be sentenced with the others, Reyes-Jaimes was awarded a continuance and has not had his sentencing.

The three co-conspirators were charged with smuggling a .50 caliber high powered rifle to the Zetas Cartel

Officials said the case was launched on November 24th, when a Laredo officer pulled over a Chevy Malibu for a traffic violation.

Zebadua was identified as the driver, and Reyes-Jaimes was riding as a passenger.

During the traffic stop, Zebadua told the cop that she had just bought a firearm and that she had it in the car.

The gun was a semiautomatic rifle.

Officers recovered the .50-caliber rifle in the backseat. They then informed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for help given the type of firearm.

Zebadua and Reyes-Jaimes consented to an interview with ATF agents. Zebadua admitted that she had purchased the gun with cash provided by Reyes-Jaimes.

Zebadua falsely identified herself as the buyer despite knowing she was purchasing it for someone else.

“During the interview, Reyes confessed to the agents that he had gotten money from the Los Zetas crime organization to purchase that rifle,” the complaint states.

Special agents said Reyes-Jaimes provided Zebadua with $5,000 to buy the weapon.

Reyes-Jaimes added that Ortiz and others would come from Mexico to examine the firearm.

Special agents said they carried out surveillance at the meeting between Reyes-Jaimes and Ortiz at a home. Later, a Ford Expedition arrived, and Sifuentes was identified as the driver and Ortiz as the passenger.

Both were arrested and Sifuentes agreed to be questioned by law enforcement.

“Sifuentes stated that he and Ortiz had crossed the bridge that evening and they were coming to see the rifle that was later going to be smuggled into Mexico,” the complaint added. “Sifuentes stated that Ortiz would be paying Reyes for the firearm and that Reyes had sent a picture to Ortiz earlier.”

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