A U.S. citizen living in Tijuana has been indicted on charges of trading drugs for weapons, including machine guns and grenade launchers, which he intended to provide to Mexican gangs, federal authorities said this week.
A federal grand jury in Los Angeles charged Pedro Roberto Hernandez-Gomez with possession of machine guns, attempting to transport explosives, being a felon in possession of firearms, distribution of heroin and distribution of fentanyl.
Hernandez-Gomez, 31, agreed to provide the narcotics in exchange for weapons, including grenades and handguns, according to the federal affidavit.
“It is clear these machine guns and grenade launchers were destined for criminal groups in Mexico,” Carlos A. Canino, a special agent in charge of the L.A. field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said in a statement.
Court records show Hernandez-Gomez, a convicted felon, arranged the swap during a meeting Dec. 20 in Los Angeles with undercover agents from the ATF who were posing as firearms traffickers. He returned to L.A. on Jan. 7 to trade a kilogram each of heroin and fentanyl for firearms and grenades, according to the affidavit.
The plan involved his taking possession of three Bushmaster 5.56-millimeter machine guns, three 40-mm grenade launchers and 72 inert grenades, which he thought were live explosives, according to a news release from the ATF.
Shortly after he loaded the weapons into his silver Dodge minivan, undercover agents arrested Hernandez-Gomez and found his U.S. passport in his vehicle. Hernandez-Gomez told agents he planned to take the guns back to Tijuana and would receive a little over $100 for making the trip, according to the affidavit. He also said he was expecting about $20,000, a small percentage of the total value of the firearms.
“This is a prime example of the type of violent criminal ATF targets along with the partnership of the U.S. attorney’s office,” Canino said. “ATF works diligently to stop firearm trafficking schemes so guns do not end up in in the hands of criminals, gangs or cartels, and we will continue to do so.”
Hernandez-Gomez’s public defender, Howard Shneider, could not immediately be reached Thursday for comment.