Selling Ghost Guns to Mexican Cartel Sends Felon to Prison

LAREDO, Texas – A 37-year-old Laredo resident has been sentenced for possession of a machine gun, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and conspiracy to possess intent to distribute cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Jaime Jesus Esquivel pleaded guilty June 6, admitting, in part, to producing and illegally exporting fully automatic firearms to Mexico for the use of drug cartels.

U.S. District Marina Garcia Marmolejo has now handed Esquivel a total 120-month-term of imprisonment to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard that Esquivel bragged to an undercover officer that he manufactured and trafficked hundreds of firearms into Mexico. In handing down the sentence, the court noted that in trafficking both narcotics and firearms that Esquivel was trafficking in death.

As part of the undercover investigation, authorities conducted four controlled purchases of cocaine and multiple AR-type fully automatic rifles. The weapons were ghost guns, a common term for privately made firearms that are absent any manufacture marks of identification. Esquivel assembled and manufactured these weapons for distribution.

Esquivel also made the firearms from various components of combat weapons including Colt model M4 parts and a 3D-printed polymer AR-type drop in auto sear or machine gun conversion device (MGCD). An MGCD is any part designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun.

Law enforcement executed two search warrants and seized completed and privately manufactured AR-type lower receivers, various firearm parts, firearm manufacturing tools as well as 950 rounds of assorted ammunition, a 7.62mm rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a privately manufactured short-barrel fully automatic rifle without serial numbers or industry markings. They also found meth, cocaine and a 3D printer.

As a convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition per federal law.

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

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Laredo Police Department conducted the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Scott Bowling prosecuted the case.

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