Florida man catches 10 years for buying guns for Mexican cartel

Federal prosecutors announced last week that an Orlando, Florida, man who spent over $46,000 to purchase an arsenal of select-fire weapons intended for Mexican drug rings has received a 120-month sentence.

Headed to a federal correctional institution for upto a decade is Jaime Juaregui, 36, who was arrested April 2013 on a two-count indictment of conspiracy to violate the Gun Control and National Firearms Acts and possession of unregistered firearms. Juaregui was found guilty in a two-day jury trial last October in a Louisiana federal court with jury deliberation lasting less than an hour.

He received his sentence of 120 months followed by three years of supervised release from U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey last week.

“Jaime Jauregui and his co-conspirators planned to make a fortune by trafficking in illegal weapons intended to end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels,” stated U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite following last year’s trial. “Fortunately, the efforts of our law enforcement partners intervened before Jauregui’s criminality further jeopardized the safety of individuals here in the United States and in Mexico.”

According to court documents, Juaregui made contact with what he believed to be a black-market gun seller in 2012 who was actually an undercover agent for Homeland Security Investigations. Between Feb. 28, 2012 and March 21, 2013, the Florida man met with the agent four times in Southeastern Louisiana for the purpose of obtaining arms for the Gulf Cartel in Mexico.

In all, the shopping list submitted by Juaregui included 50 AK-47s, 60 Colt M-4s, and 30 grenades. Both the AKs and M4s were select-fire full auto variants of the rifle. At one point, an undercover agent met Juaregui at a Cracker Barrel in Covington, Louisiana, then took him to a storage unit in nearby Mandeville where he was shown 10 full-auto AKs and five semi-automatic M4s.

“These are exactly what I’m looking for,” Jauregui said while examining the samples.

He then told agents pointedly that, the weapons were destined for the Gulf Cartel in Mexico.

In subsequent meetings, agents accepted a total of $46,000 as partial payment for the munitions before finally arresting Juaregui along with three co-conspirators after two Colt M-4s changed hands.

Jauregui was a known felon, having been convicted in 1996 for aggravated battery in Florida, a fact that federal prosecutors used against his co-conspirators to argue they knew he was attempting to illegally obtain firearms.

Two of the group, Ruben Jauregui, 24, and Francisco Maldonado, 46, both of Dade City, Florida, plead guilty to misprision of a felony in July 2013.

A fourth defendant, Carlos Cabrera, 42, of Orlando, plead guilty and was sentenced separately.

“Firearms regulations exist to ensure weapons crossing international borders are properly accounted for to preserve public safety and to keep them out of the hands of dangerous criminals,” said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer Jr. “This case shows the significant consequences awaiting individuals who attempt to illegally smuggle weapons across U.S. borders.”

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