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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Former US Marine and 5 others Charged with Gun Smuggling for the CJNG Cartel

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

According to an indictment, guns and ammunition seized included four rifles at an Orange County home, two rifles at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry and 77,300 rounds in a Westlake Village trailer.

A former U.S. Marine from Whittier is facing federal charges alleging he led a six-man scheme to smuggle weapons and ammunition to one of the most feared transnational drug cartels in Mexico, federal prosecutors announced Monday.

Marco Antonio Santillan Valencia, 51, and three other alleged members of the operation were arrested last week in Southern California as part of a federal investigation dubbed Operation Semper Infidelis, a play on the Marines’ famous motto, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Six men have been charged with plotting to smuggle assault weapons and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition, including .50-caliber armor-piercing bullets, to one of Mexico's most violent drug cartels, authorities announced Monday.

The men are accused of conspiracy to violate federal export laws by smuggling weapons into Mexico for the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación. Several also face other smuggling or money laundering charges.

The men used drug money to purchase legally-available weapons in Oregon and Nevada and ammunition from several states, sometimes ordering pallets of bullets for delivery to a “stash location" in Nevada, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office.

The six defendants named in the indictment are:
  • Marco Antonio Santillan Valencia, 51, of Whittier, the alleged leader of the organization that obtained and supplied weapons, firearms parts and ammunition to the CJNG;
  • Anthony Marmolejo Aguilar, 30, of Whittier, who is currently in state custody on separate charges in North Carolina;
  • Marco Santillan Jr., 29, of Pahrump, Nevada, who is the son of the alleged leader of the ring and who was arrested in Oregon;
  • Michael Diaz, 33, of Moreno Valley;
  • Luis De Arcos, 51, of Midway City; and
  • Rafael Magallon Castillo, 34, of Oceano, is a fugitive believed to be in Mexico.
Santillan and his codefendants, including his son Marco Santillan Jr., 29, are accused of buying guns, ammunition, and firearm components in Nevada, Oregon, Nebraska, and Arizona and arranging to smuggle them into Mexico. The weaponry was purchased with the proceeds of drug sales, prosecutors charged.

The operation began in March 2020 and lasted about a year, during which some items were sent to Mexico while authorities seized others, including assault rifles and several hundred thousand rounds of ammunition, including some 10,000 rounds of .50-caliber armor-piercing incendiary ammunition obtained in Arizona, authorities said.

Also seized were assault rifle parts and kits to assemble miniguns, which are six-barrel rotary machine guns capable of firing up to 6,000 rounds per minute, authorities said. “This case alleges a scheme to provide military-grade firepower to a major drug trafficking organization that commits unspeakable acts of violence in Mexico to further its goal of flooding the United States with dangerous and deadly narcotics,” U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said in a statement.

An indictment, returned in December and unsealed last week, offers a sense of the alleged operation’s scope: Stopped by law enforcement in San Bernardino County, Santillan Jr. and two others were found to be transporting 64,400 rounds of ammunition, 20 50-round ammunition belts, rifle scopes, $52,471 in cash and $10,000 in money orders, the document says.

According to the indictment, authorities seized guns and ammunition at various sites across the state: four rifles at a home in Midway City in Orange County, 77,300 rounds of ammunition in a trailer in Westlake Village, boxes of rifle components and bullets in a minivan in Whittier, and two rifles at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, where an Orange County man tried to smuggle the weapons, ammunition, and cash into Mexico.

Santillan and all but one of his codefendants were arrested last week. Rafael Magallon Castillo, who was charged with conspiring to violate export restrictions, is a fugitive and believed to be in Mexico, according to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. Magallon, 34, was last living in Oceano, just south of San Luis Obispo.

Santillan has pleaded not guilty. He was previously convicted in federal court in San Diego of conspiring to import contraband in 1994 and sentenced to six months in prison, court records show. His attorney didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

The men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles last month. Santillan and two other Southern California men pleaded not guilty on Jan. 19 in Los Angeles. Santillan's son, Marco Santillan Jr., 29, of Pahrump, Nevada, was ordered arraigned on Feb. 2. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

The guns and ammunition were said by law enforcement officials to be bound for members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known by its Spanish initials, CJNG. Prosecutors cited a Facebook message in which Santillan Jr. allegedly said that “Mencho’s cartel” was “buying everything.”

In its 2021 threat assessment, the DEA warned that the CJNG was one of Mexico’s two dominant drug trafficking groups, along with the Sinaloa Cartel.

The CJNG, in particular, has pushed synthetic drugs — chiefly methamphetamine and fentanyl — into the United States through the border cities of Tijuana, Juarez, and Nuevo Laredo, agency officials wrote in the assessment. Most of the methamphetamine and fentanyl sold in Los Angeles is supplied by the group, the assessment says.

Authorities in Los Angeles warned two years ago that Oseguera’s organization was using drug proceeds to buy weapons in the United States, then smuggling the guns and ammunition to Mexico. Federal prosecutors charged four men at the time with conspiring to buy assault weapons; one of the defendants, a cook at a Santa Ana seafood restaurant, was said to have asked a DEA informant about the viability of buying several hundred AK-47s and AR-15s.

The charge of conspiracy to violate export administration regulations carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, while the attempted smuggling counts each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Since the January 19 takedown, authorities continued efforts to arrest Magallon, but they are now seeking the public’s assistance in bringing him to justice. Anyone with information about Magallon’s whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at (310) 477-6565.

The Los Angeles Strike Force is led by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Attorney’s Office. Homeland Security Investigations, IRS Criminal Investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department and the United States Marshals Service are members of the Strike Force. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the South Gate Police Department provided substantial assistance during this investigation.

Assistant United States Attorneys Benedetto L. Balding and Christopher C. Kendall of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section are prosecuting this case.

Operation Semper Infidelis is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations.



  1. The Minigun (6000 rounds per minute) along with the 50 cal Barret sniper rifles and RPG is the reason el Señor Mencho and his people were able to down a Mexican Army helicopter full with FES (Gafes High Command Mex equivalent of Delta Force) and get away on May 1st 2015 .
    He has an army of 5,000 and is protected by paramilitary-trained assassins. Not even Sic 006 can go against those numbers and firepower.

    1. The Mexician military has Blackhawks equipped with machine guns, to take down a convoy of a cartel, but enpt president ALMO does not want to use them.

    2. I’ve always believed that CJNG is superior in battle for two reasons: munitions employed (7.62 capable and up) along with reconnaissance (which I think is state sponsored, either domestically or by foreigners trying to maintain the destabilization of our neighbors)

    3. They actyally took down 2 or 3 chopoers that day mencho got captured and later released but you already know how the mexican government down plays ALL THE VIOLENCE..

      That wimppy old grandpa AMLO probably never even shot a resortera!

  2. Here we have Obrador with a group of Mexician lawyers and lawyers of a Texas firm suing, the gun manufacturers, for the flow of weapons going into MEXICO.
    This article is a prime example, that it is smugglers that bring in the guns into MEXICO, not the gun manufacturer.

  3. Yes hurray!
    Yeaaaa for
    Operation "Semper Infidelis".

  4. Holy Mackerel!
    Let this be a lesson to gun traffickers, that you will serve Federal time.

  5. The fuken government of Obrador don't want to realize how, they are letting a monster like CJNG grow each and every days, while it is being fed weapons, ammo to go into Mexico and letting CJNG take over 33% of the country it is no wonder why Mexico keeps going downhill, but he is always quick to blame it on some one else.

  6. AMLO is a coward and a Sell out!..
    Fuck all the pendejos who support him!!

    1. Lol. What's stopping you from doing better?

    2. 2:11 there goes the first pwndejo! Lol

    3. Lol. Honestly, not supporting AMLO bit if you feel like he's doing a lousy job then why not step up to the plate? You make it sound easy. I believe in you.

    4. 12:14 ALMO nuthugger, hey nice to see you crawl from under the rock.

    5. 12:14 if your defending him that m3ans you support him tonto!

  7. I firmly believe that our US govt has and will continue to allow these organizations to flourish and destroy each other. This leaves Mexico with a zero chance of ever becoming a major super power or possible threat. As well all know a plethora of people profit and abuse drugs. Stopping the flow of drugs is no easy task. We all know that the key to eradicate these thugs for good is to hit them where it hurts: their wallet and firepower. 1.) a massive freeze on bank accounts. 2.) Inspect all southbound traffic Your welcome

    1. Mexico had a chance to become a superpower? You mean like the five permanent members of the UN Security Council? Haha!

    2. Another brain washed tweeter, the criminals smuggle guns to Mexico and your blaming USA, talk about reading comprehension.

  8. When you get in smuggling game, better consent mr. DEA and CIA for cuts and bribe. This way, you won’t get caugy. Fast and furious baby!!!!!!

    1. Mr hardondog

      There is no Fast o furious going on, that was many years ago, please wake up.


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