A 50-caliber gun
A 50-caliber gun AFP

The Department of Justice arrested five men in Texas this week and accused them of illegally purchasing firearms with the goal of later smuggling them across the border with Mexico and selling them to drug cartels, the Texas Tribune reported.

The suit details that a man, Gerardo Rafael Perez Jr. of Laredo coordinated the purchase of more than 100 arms with said purpose. Four others aided him in his goal of transporting them to Nuevo Laredo, in Mexico.

The guns were expensive and "military-grade," bought from licensed and unlicensed dealers and then taken out of the country. FNH SCAR rifles, Barrett .50 caliber rifles, FNH M294S rifles, and M1919 rifles were some of the arms bought.

The men were charged with conspiracy to straw purchase firearms and smuggling across the southern border, offenses established by a 2022 gun safety bill. The bipartisan bill made it illegal to buy a gun for another person who is prohibited from owning it or doesn't want its name associated with the transaction.

Over 300 people have been prosecuted for offenses of this nature since the law was passed, the outlet reported. If found guilty, the defendants could spend up to 15 years in prison.

Mexico has sued U.S. gun manufacturers alleging that they "design, market, distribute and sell guns in ways" that arm Mexican drug cartels, playing a role in the rise of gun violence in the country.

The complaint was dismissed by a US district court in September 2022, arguing the claims were "barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," but Mexico won an appeal and, just this Monday, a three-judge panel in Boston determined that "Mexico's complaint plausibly alleges a type of claim that is statutorily exempt from the PLCAA's general prohibition," allowing it to move forward.

The Mexican government celebrated the decision, noting that it would return to a lower court. There, the country will seek to "demonstrate the defendants' negligence" and seek damages. The defendants include Smith & Wesson, Colt and Glock.

"We are suing them because clearly there is a pattern, we contend that it is obvious that there is weapons trafficking and that it is known that these guns are going to our country," said then-Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard in 2022 when pressing the charges. This is the first lawsuit brought by a foreign government against members of the U.S. gun industry, Mexico said. It added that companies are aware of such practices but do nothing to stop it.

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