Southern District of Texas


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Jun 26, 2023

Southern District of Texas

LAREDO, Texas – A 37-year-old Laredo resident has pleaded guilty to possession

LAREDO, Texas – A 37-year-old Laredo resident has pleaded guilty to 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 produced and illegally exporting fully automatic firearms to Mexico for the use of drug cartels.

As part of the undercover investigation, law enforcement conducted four controlled purchases of cocaine or multiple AR-type fully automatic rifles. The rifles 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. He made them from various components of 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 federal search warrants on locations in Laredo and seized completed and privately manufactured AR-type lower receivers, various firearm parts, firearm manufacturing tools/jigs, 950 rounds of assorted ammunition, a 7.62mm rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and one privately manufactured short barrel fully automatic rifle that lacked any serial numbers or industry markings as well as meth and cocaine and a 3D printer.

"Selling fully automatic rifles to Mexican cartels so they can carry out their deadly and heartless goals puts the lives of families on both sides the border in serious danger," said Hamdani. "Esquivel manufactured and assembled fully automatic AR-Type rifles for distribution to Mexico's cartels, placing his and the cartels’ profits above the lives of his neighbors. As a result, he now faces the potential of a very lengthy term in federal prison."

U.S. District Marina Garcia Marmolejo will impose sentencing at a later date. At that time, Esquivel faces up to 10 years for possession of a machine gun, a maximum of 20 years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon as well and 20 years for conspiracy to possess intent to distribute cocaine and total fines of up to $1.5 million.

Esquivel has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing.

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 is prosecuting the case as part of the joint federal, state and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program. In May 2021, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a new effort to reduce violent crime, including the gun violence that is often at its core. Integral to that effort was the reinvigoration of PSN, a two-decade old, evidence-based and community-oriented program focused on reducing violent crime. The updated PSN approach, outlined in the department's Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime is guided by four key principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results of our efforts. The fundamental goal is to reduce violent crime, not simply to increase the number of arrests or prosecutions.

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