Justice in Mexico

2 Connected to the Sinaloa Cartel Plead Guilty to Trading Drugs for Weapons

05/04/11— According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, David Diaz-Sosa and Emilia Palomino-Robles, both Mexican nationals, pled guilty to their involvement with conspiracy to trade drugs and cash for military weapons to be used by the Sinaloa drug cartel. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) had created a joint undercover operation called Operation White Gun, which led to their arrests. A third, Jorge DeJesus-Casteñeda, was found guilty by jury for his role in the illicit activity.

The three had negotiated with undercover DEA and ATF agents to exchange methamphetamine and cash for assault weapons. In 2009, Diaz-Sosa approached an undercover ATF agent with aims to purchase weapons for the Sinaloa Cartel. Diaz-Sosa and Palomino-Robles gave the agent five pounds of methamphetamine and a large amount of cash as a down payment. During this time they issued a lengthy list to the agent that listed the types of weapons they were interested in, which included sophisticated weapons like the FIM-92 Stinger. Such a weapon is a surface-to-air missile used to shoot down aircraft, which some highlight to be significant for its purchase coincided with the period when the U.S. issued drone flights over Mexican territory. Diaz-Sosa and Palomino-Robles brought ten more pounds of methamphetamine on the day of the scheduled transfer with the undercover agents. After three months of continued negotiations and trades for weapons, Diaz-Sosa was arrested with methamphetamine in his hands, and Palomino Robles was arrested with possession of over $100,000 dollars.

The desire and use of military weapons by the drug cartels suggests a change in the Sinaloa Cartel’s strategy, believes news source In Sight, and will create numerous challenges for both the U.S. and Mexican authorities in the future.


García, Dennis A.”El Chapo negociaba droga por armas en EU” La Crónica. May 4, 2011.

Ramsey, Geoffrey. “Sinaloa Cartel Sought Anti-Aircraft Missiles.” Insight Organized Crime in the Americas. May 4, 2011.  

“Cártel de El Chapo buscó misiles antiaéreos en EU.” El Universal. May 3, 2011.

“Guilty Pleas for 2 Mexican Nationals in Conspiracy to Acquire “Stinger” Missile and other Military-Grade Weapons.” U.S. Fed News (Avionics Intelligence). May 3, 2011.

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