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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Texas
Jennifer B. Lowery, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Former Cartel Leader’s Son Admits to Moving Assault Weapons Into Mexico

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Osiel Cardenas Jr. has pleaded guilty to smuggling goods from the United States into Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Cardenas aka Osiel Cardenas-Salinas Jr., 30, Brownsville, admitted he attempted to purchase 10 assault rifles to export into Mexico. Cardenas is the son of former head of the Gulf Cartel Osiel Cardenas-Guillen who was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in federal prison and ordered to pay a money judgment of $50 million.

On April 22, 2021, Cardenas and others attempted to purchase five AK-47 type rifles and five AR-15 type rifles.

The undercover operation took place in a Brownsville store parking lot. Cardenas had instructed another individual to cross into Mexico to pick up the $15,000 for the weapons and to inform him when the weapons transaction had been completed.

Cardenas further admitted he committed the crime while on supervised release for a previous felony.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr. will impose sentencing Nov. 8. At that time, Cardenas faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

He has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation with the assistance of Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elena Salinas is prosecuting the case.

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