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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Texas
Leigha Simonton, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, March 24, 2023

Firearms Trafficker Linked to Cartel Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

A Fort Worth man who attempted to traffic a military-grade machine gun to a Mexican drug cartel was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton.

Daniel Loyola, Jr., 24, pleaded guilty in December 2022 to possession of a machinegun. He was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor.

“Thanks to excellent undercover work by ATF and Texas DPS, we have thwarted a firearms trafficker intent on sending dangerous guns to a drug cartel,” said U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton. “The Justice Department is committed to stemming the flow of firearms across the southern border.”

“The fight to keep high powered weapons out of the hands of drug cartels and narco-terrorists is real and here in North Texas. ATF and our partners are working tirelessly to protect both the citizens of the United States and Mexico from the scourge of violence perpetrated by weapons like this. Mr. Loyola’s ten-year sentence should serve as a warning to others looking to get into the firearms trafficking business,” stated ATF Dallas Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II.

According to court documents, Mr. Loyola posted on Instagram that he possessed a potential machinegun, a potential silencer, and a .50 caliber rifle – a firearm commonly sought by Mexican drug cartels – and that he wished to buy a high-caliber machine gun.

Seeing these posts, an undercover agent initiated a conversation. Ultimately, Mr. Loyola agreed to purchase an M-60 from the undercover for $20,000 cash, and mentioned that the payment would be coming from Mexico.

On Oct. 25, 2022, Mr. Loyola met with two undercover agents in a parking lot in Fort Worth. He handed over the money, and they presented him with a cardboard box containing an M-60 in three pieces, the frame/receiver and two barrels.

One of the undercover agents explained that the firearm was fully automatic; Mr. Loyola responded, “yeah, I know.” After paying over $20,000 in cash for the firearm, Mr. Loyola began to take possession of the machinegun and was immediately taken into custody.

Following his arrest, Mr. Loyola admitted that he had purchased the M-60 on behalf of an individual who worked for a Mexican drug cartel. He stated that he’d sold multiple firearms to the man before, and that the .50 caliber rifle he’d posted on Instagram was also purchased on the individual’s behalf.

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, Judge O’Connor found that the defendant was engaged in the trafficking of firearms, and applied an enhancement to his sentence based on that finding.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ Dallas Field Division and the Texas Department of Public Safety conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Fort Worth Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Levi Thomas prosecuted the case.

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