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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Texas
For Immediate Release
Jaime Esparza, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-wdtx
Friday, September 15, 2023

Alleged Drug and Firearm Smugglers Federally Indicted in El Paso

EL PASO, Texas – A federal grand jury in El Paso returned an eight-count indictment Wednesday charging four alleged members of a drug trafficking organization with charges related to the trafficking of fentanyl and methamphetamine, as well as straw purchasing and trafficking firearms.

According to court documents, Maria del Rosario Navarro-Sanchez, 37, of Mexico coordinated the delivery of methamphetamine and fentanyl pills from Mexico into the United States through the El Paso ports of entry, using codefendant Bryan Alexis Munoz-Castro, 20, of El Paso as a courier.  The indictment details that, upon a search of the residence, FBI special agents discovered approximately 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, approximately 300 grams of fentanyl, $6,480 in drug proceeds, and two cell phones at Munoz-Castro’s residence.

The indictment claims Navarro-Sanchez and Munoz-Castro coordinated the trafficking of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico.  In mid-summer of 2023, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) intercepted communications of Navarro-Sanchez and learned of an agreement to purchase 20 AK-47 type rifles and two Barrett .50 BMG caliber rifles for $66,000. 

On Aug. 21, codefendant Rene Hernandez-Cordero, 51, of Mexico, allegedly crossed into the U.S. from Mexico with approximately $63,000 in his possession to meet codefendant, Jesus Gerado Ramos, 52, of El Paso, and purchase the firearms.  Ramos allegedly intended to transport the weapons into Mexico, however he and Hernandez-Cordero were arrested at the site of the purchase.

Navarro-Sanchez is charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute, one count of straw purchasing firearms, and one count of trafficking in firearms.  If convicted, she faces a penalty of 10 years to life in prison for each of the two controlled substance charges and a maximum penalty of 15 years for each of the charges related to firearms.

Munoz-Castro is charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, two counts of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute, one count of straw purchasing firearms, and one count of trafficking in firearms.  If convicted, he faces a penalty of 10 years to life in prison for four of the controlled substance charges, a maximum penalty of 15 years for each of the charges related to firearms, and a penalty of five to 40 years for a fifth controlled substance charge.

Hernandez-Cordero is charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute, one count of straw purchasing firearms, one count of trafficking in firearms, and one count of bulk cash smuggling. If convicted, he faces a penalty of 10 years to life in prison for four of the controlled substance charges, a maximum penalty of 15 years for each of the charges related to firearms, and a maximum penalty of 10 years for the bulk cash smuggling charge.

Ramos is charged with one count of straw purchasing firearms and one count of trafficking in firearms.  If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 15 years for each charge.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentences after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II for the ATF Dallas Field Division; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Doug Goodwater for the FBI El Paso Field Office made the announcement.

The ATF and FBI are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Myers is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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