Mexican cartel arms trafficker convicted
LAREDO, TEXAS (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — Jose Roberto Obregon, 29, of Laredo, has entered a plea of guilty for his role in a conspiracy to export weapons to Mexico destined for Los Zetas Drug Trafficking Organization, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Obregon, aka Minutitos, was set for trial next week, but at a status hearing in court today before U.S. District Court Judge Diana Saldana, he instead opted to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to export arms in violation of the Export Controls Act.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation revealed that a Laredo based co-defendant associated with Los Zetas needed someone to transport weapons from the Dallas area to Laredo and then to the Republic of Mexico for ultimate delivery to Los Zetas Drug Trafficking Organization.
Otilo and Ranferi Osorio were identified as co-conspirators in the Dallas area who were to deliver the weapons to other co-conspirators for transportation to Laredo. Co-defendants Pablo Cerda, 36, Nicolas Sanchez-Reyes, aka NICO, 50, and Obregon, operated out of the Laredo area and were tasked with receiving the shipment of weapons in Laredo and arranging for their transportation to Mexico.
On Nov. 9, 2010, agents set up surveillance at the parking lot area of a Wal-Mart located near I-35 in Lancaster, at which time agents observed a tractor trailer driver meet with Ranferi and Otilio Osorio who arrived in a Ford Explorer. Two large duffel bags believed to contain weapons were removed from the Explorer and placed inside the tractor. Agents then followed the tractor-trailer.
Obregon, Sanchez-Reyes and Cerda then coordinated the receipt of the weapons for ultimate transportation to Nuevo Laredo. Between Nov. 9 and 10, the men called each other regarding the logistics of the shipment and coordinated the delivery of the weapons in Laredo to another driver secured by Cerda who would transport the weapons to Mexico.
On Nov. 9, Webb County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a traffic stop in Laredo of tractor trailer transporting the weapons. At that time, Sanchez-Reyes called the driver’s phone and a deputy answered the call. Unaware of the situation, Sanchez-Reyes said he was looking for the driver who was supposed to bring him something, at which time the deputy informed the driver could not talk. After the stop, deputies located the two duffle bags and found 40 high-powered firearms consisting of various makes, models and calibers as well as 39 empty magazines. Agents then discovered that 37 of the 40 firearms recovered had obliterated serial numbers. The driver was arrested at the scene.
Co-defendants Otilo and Ranferi Osorio were indicted in Dallas and have since pleaded guilty and been sentenced. Earlier this year, Cerda and Sanchez-Reyes entered their pleas of guilty to the charge of conspiracy to export arms. Cerda, Sanchez-Reyes and Obregon are in custody and will remain in custody until their sentencing which has been set for March 27, 2013. The three are also pending State Charges for capital murder and engaging in organized criminal activity in the 49th District Court of Webb County before State District Court Judge Joe Lopez.
The OCDETF investigation was conducted DEA and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney Mary Lou Castillo is prosecuting the case.