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Press Release

Moving assault weapons into Mexico lands former cartel leader’s son in prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Osiel Cardenas-Salinas Jr. has been sent to federal prison following his conviction of smuggling goods from the United States into Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Cardenas aka Osiel Cardenas Jr., 31, Brownsville, pleaded guilty Aug. 2, 2022, to attempting to purchase 10 assault rifles to export into Mexico. Cardenas is the son of former head of the Gulf Cartel Osiel Cardenas-Guillen who was convicted and previously sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.

Today, U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr. ordered Cardenas-Salinas to serve 109 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release and to pay a $20,000 fine. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence that described Cardenas-Salinas’s role as a supervisor/manager. In handing down the sentence, the court noted Cardenas-Salinas had two firearms related cases in his criminal history and continued to engage in additional criminal activity with the smuggling of weapons, repeatedly engaging in violations involving firearms. At the hearing, Cardenas-Salinas apologized to the court and asked for mercy.

On April 22, 2021, Cardenas and others attempted to purchase five AK-47 type rifles and five AR-15 type rifles.

The undercover operation took place in a Brownsville store parking lot. Cardenas had instructed another individual to cross into Mexico to pick up the $15,000 for the weapons and to inform him when the weapons transaction had been completed.

At the time of his plea, Cardenas admitted he committed the crime while on supervised release for a previous felony.

He has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Homeland Security Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elena Salinas prosecuted the case.

Updated March 23, 2023

Firearms Offenses