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Attempted Firearms and Ammunition Smuggling to Zeta Cartel Lands Two Men in Federal Prison

LAREDO, Texas – Damaso Alberto Rueda-Cabrera, 30, and Rene Chapa, 51, have been handed federal prison sentences in case involving the attempted smuggling of 147 firearms and 10,000 rounds of ammunition for Zeta cartel in Mexico, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Rueda-Cabrera, of El Cenizo, Texas, previously pleaded guilty to being an alien in possession of firearms, while Chapa, of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, entered a guilty plea to attempting to export firearms. 

Today, U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen, who accepted the guilty pleas, sentenced Rueda-Cabrera to 80 months to be followed by three years of supervised release. Chapa will serve a total of 70 months in federal prison. 

The charges arose from an investigation which included a controlled delivery of 147 ROMARMS AK-47 rifles, 10,000 rounds of ammunition and 269 ammunition clips conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on May 29, 2010. An HSI undercover agent, posing as a truck driver, was recruited by Chapa and others to transport the firearms, ammunition and ammunition clips from Phoenix, Ariz., to Laredo, Texas, and eventually into Mexico. The weapons were delivered to the undercover agent in Phoenix and brought to Laredo by controlled delivery. Rueda-Cabrera arrived to pick up the weapons and was subsequently arrested. Chapa was arrested later for his involvement. The investigation established that the firearms were ordered by the Zetas drug cartel in Mexico. 

The investigation leading to the criminal charges was conducted by HSI with assistance of the Laredo Police Department, Webb County Sheriff’s Office, Customs and Border Protection Air Branch and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney Andy Guardiola prosecuted the case.

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