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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hidalgo Resident Gets Federal Prison Time For Buying Firearms For Gulf Cartel Members

McALLEN, Texas - Ricardo Cantu Jr., 32, of Hidalgo, Texas, will be serving a 2½-year prison term for making false statements and representations on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) form 4473, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Cantu pleaded guilty June 23, 2011, for making false statements with respect to information required to be kept in the records of federally licensed firearms dealers.

Today, Chief United States District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa sentenced Cantu to 30 months imprisonment to be followed by a three-year-term of supervised release. Judge Hinojosa took into consideration that the defendant repeatedly changed his story as to the events that happened which resulted in the sentence ultimately imposed today.

The investigation into Cantu began on July 6, 2010, when ATF and Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents responded to the Hidalgo Port of Entry in reference to two firearms and 6,300 rounds of ammunition being smuggled into Mexico by Andrei Antonio Torres-Vazquez. The two firearms were found to have been purchased that same day by Cantu. He was contacted and interviewed and admitted he had been hired by members of the Gulf Cartel to straw purchase firearms for their criminal organization to take into Mexico.

Previously released on bond, Cantu was allowed to remain on bond pending the issuance of an order to surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future. 

In the separate but related case, Torres-Vazquez pleaded guilty on Aug. 25, 2010, and was sentenced to 37 months in prison on Nov. 8, 2010.

The investigation was conducted by ATF and HSI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Steven Schammel.

Updated April 30, 2015