“El Canonazo” Owner Guilty Of Illegally Smuggling Firearm Magazines To Mexico
LAREDO, Texas – Arturo Gonzalez, 42, businessman and owner of two J.C. Twiss “El Canonazo” sporting apparel and firearm accessories stores in Laredo, has been convicted of attempting to export more than 600 firearm magazines to Mexico, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson today. The verdict was announced late today after a three-day trial and approximately nine hours of deliberation.
According to testimony from Leticia Moncada Infante, Gonzalez personally delivered boxes containing AK-47 assault rifle magazines to her at the north Laredo store on Shiloh Drive on Nov. 28, 2012, after the store’s closing hours. She told jurors she had received a telephone call in advance from a Mexican contact to proceed to the store, receive the boxes and was to deliver them to a Mexican semi-tractor driver whom she would meet at a prearranged time and location who would smuggle the boxes to Mexico. Additional testimony from other witnesses and court records confirmed infante waited in her car as Gonzalez loaded several boxes from his store into the trunk of her car. Those boxes were delivered moments later to a truck driver who was arrested trying to drive into Mexico with them. Infante has already pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
A Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent posed as another courier sent by a Mexican buyer. Gonzalez directed the agent to receive boxes containing another 288 AK-47 assault rifle magazines in an alley behind the north Laredo Store on Nov. 30, 2012. After noting the number of people watching, Gonzalez directed the agent to proceed to the back alley of his store. The agent testified he never received any paperwork nor was asked for identification from Gonzalez. A short time later, the agent delivered the boxes to another Mexican truck driver who was arrested attempting to smuggle the boxes into Mexico.
Jorge Sosa, a former employee of Gonzalez who has also pleaded guilty, testified that Gonzalez introduced him to at least two persons from whom he had received money and directed him to accept cash from them on his behalf. He also testified Gonzalez directed him to deliver the last load of 360 AK-47 assault rifles to another courier at the employee’s personal storage unit. The employee and the third courier testified that both met at the employee’s storage unit on Dec. 7, 2012, where the courier picked up five boxes containing a total of 360 magazines. The courier was apprehended shortly after the event.
Additional evidence was also presented that Gonzalez had told Guzman he feared law enforcement was closing in on him and that it would be better if Guzman did not pick up the last set of magazines from Gonzalez or at the store. Gonzalez apparently wanted to get the magazines out of his store and have them moved to a storage unit owned by Sosa.
Gonzalez testified and admitted that he had in fact delivered the boxes to Infante and the undercover agent on Nov. 28 and 30, but that he was not doing anything illegal. During his testimony, Gonzalez admitted he did not check for identification prior to delivering the assault rifle magazines. In his defense, Gonzalez stated that he had received an unusually large order from a Laredo hunter for 1,500 rifle magazines. Although never having met the gentleman before, Gonzalez quoted a price of $30,000 for the order, which the man immediately paid for in cash that he happened to be carrying with him. Gonzalez could not remember the man’s name, did not record the man’s phone number or contact information, did not photograph his identification information and did not provide any receipt or document to the buyer.
Gonzalez claimed he had no intention of providing any AK-47 rifle magazines to Guzman. He further claimed Sosa moved the magazines to the storage unit and delivered them to Guzman without Gonzalez’s knowledge or consent.
The jury disagreed and convicted him on all three counts as charged.
Gonzalez was permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing, which is set for April 14, 2014.
All AK-47 assault rifle magazines referenced in this case were intercepted and recovered in the United States. No magazines traveled to Mexico.
The investigation was conducted by HSI with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Laredo Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jose Homero Ramirez is prosecuting the case.