Photo illustration by Jernej Furman (Photo via Flickr | CC-BY-SA 2.0).
A Bozeman man accused of buying firearms in Montana and selling them to individuals in Mexico admitted Wednesday to illegally exporting guns, said U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich in a news release.
Cristyan Jose Gonzalez-Carrillo, 37, pleaded guilty to illegal export before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen DeSoto, according to the news release. Gonzalez-Carrillo faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release at his sentencing set for Feb. 15, 2024, before U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen.
Gonzalez-Carrillo was detained pending further proceedings.
“Every day across America, the Department of Justice is fighting the twin epidemics of gun violence and drug poisoning that shatter our communities,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in a statement. “To win that battle, we must root out and prosecute those who traffic illegal firearms to Mexico — where weapons end up in the hands of violent cartels that send deadly drugs back to the United States. Today’s guilty plea represents another step forward, but also a sobering reminder that the fight against cross-border firearms-trafficking is a nationwide challenge.”
In the news release, U.S. Attorney Laslovich said his office takes gun violence seriously.
“Buying guns in Montana and taking them to Mexico to sell is illegal. Fighting gun violence remains a top priority for our office, and as today’s hearing showed, we will investigate and prosecute anyone who violates federal firearms laws,” Laslovich said Wednesday in a statement.
The ATF, or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, also said preventing unlawful firearms trafficking is a top priority.
“Whether the unlawful trafficking is destined for a gang in the United States or a cartel in Mexico, we will work with our partners to stop it and hold accountable those who violate our nation’s firearms laws,” said ATF Director Steven Dettelbach in a statement.
According to the news release, the government alleged in court documents that an investigation by the ATF determined that from February 2020 to May 2020, Gonzalez-Carrillo purchased approximately 31 handguns. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Gonzalez-Carrillo’s residence in July 2020 and recovered firearms and ammunition, including semi-automatic handguns and AR style rifles, the news release said.
Receipts seized during the search were from multiple stores in Montana for the purchase of firearms during that period. In addition, the investigation determined that Gonzalez-Carrillo’s vehicle plate records would demonstrate multiple border crossings at San Ysidro, California, from April 2020 to June 2020. Investigators also learned that Gonzalez-Carrillo purchased and advertised firearms for sale on the platform WhatsApp, and sold firearms to individuals in Mexico, according to the news release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Elliott is prosecuting the case. ATF conducted the investigation.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make neighborhoods safer for everyone.
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