Couple smuggled AK-47s to Mexican drug cartel, police say

Couple plead not guilty after police say they were transporting AK-47s to Mexican drug cartel

A man and a woman driving through Newport Beach last month with seven AK-47 rifles in their vehicle were transporting the guns for a Mexican drug cartel, according to a sworn statement from a police officer filed in Orange County Superior Court.

Newport Beach police arrested Andrew John Cardiel Jr., 42, and Heather Magun Gurule, 30, after a traffic stop on Nov. 14. When officers searched their van, they found the high-powered rifles — one of which was stolen — six 30-round high-capacity magazines, two 10-round magazines and more than 350 rounds of ammunition, authorities told the Times Community News.

Four days after the arrest, the Orange County district attorney's office submitted a motion asking to increase Cardiel's and Gurule's bail from $20,000 to $500,000 each.

As part of that motion, prosecutors filed a declaration from a Newport Beach police officer explaining why the tougher bail was justified.

"They admitted they were transporting the guns to the U.S. border for a cartel," the officer wrote. "Both are possibly a flight risk and are attempting to bail out of jail."

The declaration also notes the two suspects have no permanent address and a history of drug use and violence.

Both have been convicted of felonies committed in San Bernardino County, according to the district attorney's filings.

The two pleaded not guilty to felony weapons charges and are being held in Orange County jails in lieu of $100,000 bail each, according to online records from the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Public defenders for Cardiel and Gurule could not be reached for comment, and a prosecutor on the case was unavailable Wednesday.

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