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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, February 4, 2022

Fugitive CJNG Weapons Dealer from Operation Semper Infidelis Captured in California

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Rafael Magallon Castillo while entering the United States.

According to FBI reports, this 34-year-old fell on the night of February 1, while entering the United States a week after he was charged along with five other people for trafficking weapons and ammunition for the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG).. When the accusations against him were reported, the Department of Justice reported that the authorities had reports about his stay in Mexico.

Following his arrest, the man had his initial appearance on the afternoon of February 2 in the United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles. According to the investigations, the criminal cell linked to the CJNG was directed by Marco Antonio Santillan Valencia, 51 years old. With the arrest of Magallon Castillo, there are five detainees in the case.

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.

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 the alleged link to the CJNG
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 is charged with conspiring to violate export restrictions. 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.

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. Great job!
    Criminals in the US think they are untouchable, until they get busted.
    Obrador and his staff, should read this article to see how guns, make it into MEXICO, all the while suing the gun manufacturer.

    1. The arms traffickers don't realize the cartel they sell it to, is using the weapons to kill people including Innocents.

    2. 10:50a.m. Ignore the fact that these individuals are buying as many of these weapons as they could and the bigger cals, the bigger the better. So you're saying that the manufacturers think these people are buying these weapons to go bird hunting? Never mind the fact that guns are illegal in Mexico and it should be a little strange (and a huge flag) why single individuals are buying so many weapons. And weapons they would have to smuggle into Mexico illegally presumably. Another flag is why are the same individuals using different names on the purchase's papperwork, receipt,etc. They're not using their own and those serial numbers on them guns have to have some name pop up when they're ran in the system. Do a brief review on what's going on in Mex and it's not that hard to get the picture to what these individuals intentions are...Even with half of the red flags mentioned would you be able to guess what's going on, maybe even less than that. So hell yeah the manufactures bear atleast some kind of responsibility at the very minimum.

  2. Small fish 🐟 🐠 🎣 🐡
    When are they getting the big fish 🦈

  3. Can we expect the same outcome like that of the recent US ex-soldiers which were given a slap on the wrist? On the other hand these individuals are of Mexican descent without the perks of Caucasian.

    1. Well I am going to wash my car.
      These birds like to poop alot at night. They go into trees and all they think is pooping.



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