6 Texans get jail time for straw purchasing firearms for Mexican cartel

Six individuals from Texas are headed to prison for straw purchasing firearms that were exported to members of a Mexican drug cartel.

According to a Justice Department news release, Jesus Alberto Murillo, 24, Rene Hernandez, 22, Miguel Cervantes, 22, Mariano Eberth Garcia, 22, and Felix Hernandez, 26, all of McAllen, and Marella Sandoval, 31, of Penitas, all previously pleaded guilty to the crimes.

An investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed the defendants straw purchased more than 100 firearms throughout the Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas between September and October 2015. The guns were purchased from various federally-licensed dealers in the area, and so far 14 of the firearms have been recovered in Mexico.

Murillo and Rene Hernandez, said to be leaders or supervisors of the operation, were given enhanced sentences Wednesday of 115 and 72 months, respectively. Felix Hernandez and Cervantes were sentenced to 60 and 24 months.

Garcia was sentenced Tuesday to 50 months in prison, while another member of the operation, 34-year-old Carlos Alberto Zamudio, was sentenced to 48 months in prison on April 24. Sandoval is scheduled to be sentenced on July 27.

Police departments in McAllen and Corpus Christi assisted the ATF in the investigation.