DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida

For Immediate Release

Friday, February 13, 2015
A. Lee Bentley, III
, United States Attorney
Contact: William Daniels

Colombian Brothers Sentenced to Prison for Smuggling Firearms

Orlando, Florida – Chief U.S. District Judge Anne C. Conway has sentenced two brothers, Nelson Cartagena (41, Rockledge) and Dairo Cartagena (38, Rockledge), for their roles in a conspiracy to smuggle firearms to Colombia, and for unlawfully dealing in firearms.  Nelson Cartagena was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison and Dairo Cartagena was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months’ imprisonment. The Court also ordered the Cartagenas to forfeit all firearms intercepted by law enforcement during the investigation.      

Nelson Cartagena and Dairo Cartagena pleaded guilty to the charges and were adjudicated guilty on October 30, 2014, and November 24, 2014, respectively. Two other conspirators, Karen Chan and Julian Roland, previously pleaded guilty for their roles in this case. They are scheduled to be sentenced on March 5, 2015.

According to court documents, beginning as early as November 2013, and continuing through July 2014, Nelson Cartagena and his brother bought firearms and high-capacity magazines from various Federal Firearms Licensees and private sellers at gun shows in central Florida.  They smuggled many of them to Colombia, hidden inside the motor housing of exercise machines. Law enforcement agents seized 88 firearms and 49 high-capacity magazines that had been purchased by the Cartagenas and had been shipped, or were packaged and ready for shipment, to Colombia. The intercepted shipments included high-powered military style assault rifles, pistols that shoot .223 caliber armor-piercing rifle rounds, and a variety of 9 mm pistols. Based on evidence collected during the investigation, agents estimated that more than 100 firearms were purchased by the brothers and sent to Colombia during this conspiracy. One box containing three assault rifles and a pistol was intercepted in Colombia and a shipment of 15 firearms was intercepted in Miami. An additional two boxes, containing a total of 30 firearms and 49 magazines, were found in Dairo Cartagena’s apartment ready for shipment to Colombia.

Testimony at the sentencing hearing indicated that the firearms and magazines were destined for delivery to an unknown drug cartel in Colombia.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce S. Ambrose.


Tampa Field Division