Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Smuggled NM Guns Tied to Cartel Murders

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 |

Feds say the men were moving from guns to drugs.

Federal documents state a gun smuggling operation allegedly run by three public officials from a tiny New Mexico border town had ties to Mexican drug cartels and some of the weapons were used in several murders.

Last week, federal agents raided Columbus in Luna County arresting Mayor Eddie Espinoza, Village Trustee Blas Gutierrez and Chief of Police Angelo Vega, along with several others. In total, 11 people are accused of smuggling guns into the Mexican cities of Cíudad Juarez and Palomas.

Palomas sits just across the border from Columbus.

For the first time the federal arresting agencies have officially said Espinoza and Gutierrez helped traffic firearms to Mexican drug cartels. Vega and eight others are charged as conspirators.

Prosecutors said the smuggling operation helped the cartels wage their bloody turf wars with shocking efficiency. Federal documents track the guns from New Mexico to the streets of Cíudad Juarez and Palomas and the crimes committed with the weapons.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or ATF have connected some of the guns to at least eight recent murders in those cities.

Mexican authorities are looking into whether the 11 should be charged in those crimes.

The ATF said guns from the smuggling operation were also seized during drug raids and turned up in a bust of a kidnapping operation in Juarez.

Federal documents also show that the village trustee, Blas Gutierrez, and Police Chief Angelo Vega were working to outfit a village van so they could smuggle 600 pounds of drugs for the cartel.

On Tuesday, a federal judge denied bail for the three public officials.

In total eight men are being held without bond. The two women charged in the case are free on bond.

Agents said one of the eleven suspects has not appeared in court yet. Ignacio Villalobos, 24, is still on the run.

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9 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

A good ole boy....NOTTT...This guy should be thrown to the wolves, but he won't so in this case I hope they sentence him to the highest extent of the law. Once he's released, I think Mexico should pursue him and then prosecute.

Anonymous said...

The ATF guys should be charged as well!!!

Anonymous said...

they should be charged with murder

Buela said...

@9:52

They have traced several of these weapons directly to murders in Juarez, Mexico is looking into the possibility of charges for those murders.

I read the indictment last week and was surprised to see all charges (84) were for weapons not one was drug related, however they were arrested for both so possibly another indictment will be forthcoming.

Anonymous said...

It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. Especially, given the fact of the many posts here by nazi racist assholes pontificating about the corruption on the other side of the border. It should be clear by now, that US agencies have played a huge role in destabilizing Mexico for the purpose of keeping their enormous budgets intact. Turn these pricks over to the cartels for swift justice.

ckretjr said...

Why in the hell did they let those two women out? There should be NO fucking bond for people like that! Fucking US scum who idealize money over personal life!! Fry em!

Anonymous said...

@March 17, 2011 9:06AM,

What? Your post makes no sense, I don't see any "US Agencies" here trying to destabilize Mexico. If your refering to the ATF-E and their actions it's already under investigation and has been brought to light. With regards to this article, all I see are a bunch of greedy/corrupt officials, who are going to be serving a whole lot of time in Federal prison. Additionally, what you mean by "keeping their enormous budgets intact." That makes no sense either...considering the U.S. has sent hundreds of millions in money and equipment to Mexico. Your losing sight of the problem, it is the Mexican drug cartels destabilizing Mexico, not any foreign government entities...

Anonymous said...

I love how the conspiracy theorists think that BIG US GOVERNMENT agencies have this big plan to destabilize Mexico....of course, without any facts to back their crazy statements up...

Anonymous said...

Why are most Mexicans quick on the trigger when it comes to foreign nationals, i.e. US citizens "paying" for their indirect "crimes" against Mexico. What about the sicarios that they see everyday just outside their windows, on the streets, at the gathering place that everyone knows but is too chicken shit to report. What about some swift justice for them, from your own two hands? Mexico should prosecute him.....Mexico should first find the f@#kers that killed that little girl in Acapulco then worry about gun smugglers. If your Mexican Customs did their job, no guns would reach the cartels would they?

RAM

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