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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Arizona

For Immediate Release

March 6, 2012

Ann Birmingham Scheel, United States Attorney

Contact: Bill Solomon
(602) 514-75478

Mexican National Sentenced for her Role in a Conspiracy to Acquire Stinger Missile and Other Military–Grade Weapons

PHOENIX — On March 5, 2012, Emilia Palomino–Robles, 42 of Sonora, Mexico, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg to 10 years in prison, to be followed by five years supervised release. Palomino–Robles entered a guilty plea on April 13, 2011, to one count of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute over 500 grams of Methamphetamine for her role as a courier delivering both 2,029 grams of actual pure methamphetamine and $139,900 to be used as a partial payment for military–grade weaponry that was ultimately destined for export and transfer to a Mexican drug trafficking organization in the Republic of Mexico.

With the confiscation of a significant quantity of methamphetamine and U.S. currency, this operation not only delivered a financial blow to a Mexican drug trafficking organization, but it also prevented further cartel violence by keeping dangerous weapons out of their hands, said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. I commend the ATF, the DEA, and the DCIS for their coordinated efforts in this case We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those involved in the illicit business of trafficking drugs and weapons.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) remains committed to work with our law enforcement partners to disrupt criminal networks involved in the illegal trafficking and distribution of weapons and narcotics, said ATF Special Agent in Charge Thomas Atteberry. It is clear that these criminal organizations and drug cartels based in Mexico continue to look towards the United States and in particular the Southwest Border States as a source of supply for firearms and in this case military grade weapons such as; grenades, machine guns, and Man–Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS). ATF is committed to keeping America safe and remains steadfast with our law enforcement partners to ensure that these dangerous weapons are kept out of the hands of those that would turn them against the United States. I wish to commend the leadership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona and the successful efforts of our investigative partners; DEA and DCIS.

In late 2009, David Diaz–Sosa, a weapons and narcotics broker, began negotiating the purchase of high–powered, military–grade weapons for the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, the largest of the Mexican Drug Cartels. Shortly after the weapons negotiations began, Diaz–Sosa arranged for the delivery of 4.5 pounds of methamphetamine to serve as a down payment for the weapons. Emilia Palomino–Robles made that initial delivery on behalf of Diaz–Sosa. For the next three months, Diaz–Sosa and his partners negotiated with undercover federal agents for the purchase of the following weapons:

  • • A Dragon Fire anti–tank weapon;
  • • Two AT–4s (an 84–mm unguided, portable, single–shot recoilless smoothbore weapon);
  • • A Law Rocket (a Light Anti–Tank Weapon);
  • • A Stinger Missile (a portable infrared homing anti–aircraft surface–to–air missile);
  • • Two Def Tech grenade launchers and a dozen 40 mm grenades;
  • • One M–60 machine gun;
  • • One .30 caliber machine gun; and
  • • Three cases of hand grenades.

As these negotiations continued, Diaz–Sosa and his associates agreed to exchange both cash and methamphetamine as a final payment for the weapons. On Feb. 17, 2010, Diaz–Sosa went to an undercover warehouse, maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to finalize the weapons exchange. At that time Diaz–Sosa and Jorge DeJesus–Castenada were taken into custody by federal agents. At the time of his arrest, DeJesus–Castenada possessed with the intent to deliver over 11 pounds of methamphetamine. Later that same day, Palomino–Robles was arrested in possession of $139,900, which was determined to be an additional portion of the weapons payment.

The investigation leading to the convictions in this case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Defense Criminal Investigative Services. The prosecution was handled by Josh Patrick Parecki, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix, and Robert J. Sander, Trial Attorney, Counterterrorism Section, National Security Division, Department of Justice.


RELEASE NUMBER: 2012–056(Palomino–Robles)