Two Mexican nationals appeared before a federal judge Monday, charged with smuggling a rifle into Mexico. A sporting goods store employee in the Utah purchased the weapon after his life was threatened by the Mexicans.
In March 2009, the two men sent a Barrett .50 caliber rifle from the United States to Nogales, Mexico, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in Utah’s U.S. District Court. About a week later Mexican authorities found the gun in the possession of three people in a Chevy Avalanche truck stolen out of Arizona.
An investigation found the rifle was bought online by someone living in the Salt Lake Valley eight days before it was discovered in Mexico, the complaint states.
In March 2011, a sporting goods store employee who bought the gun online initially told investigators he resold the weapon, according to the complaint. But he later admitted to giving the gun to an apparent Mexican drug cartel member who held him at gunpoint 7 to 10 times “to convince him to purchase the firearm,” according to the complaint.
The man said several Spanish speaking male customers who “seemed very friendly” would sporadically visit him asking about buying guns and ammunition, according to the complaint. He was the only Spanish-language speaking employee at the store, the complaint states.
The men took the employee out to lunch and asked him to purchase guns for them, threatening him when he declined. The employee was told if he didn’t help them they “would kill his family and make him watch before killing” him, the complaint states.
“In fear for his life, (the man) decided to transfer the Barrett rifle to his assailants,” the complaint states.
During some of their visits, the men appeared to call someone in Mexico and then would tell the victim, “They’re getting mad up there,” according to the complaint.
The two men gave the witness money to buy the gun, took it from him and drove south. Investigators tracked cell phone records of the men and their travels and believe the rifle was smuggled from the Salt Lake Valley through Arizona and on south to Nogales, Mexico.
Juan Armando Darancou-Corrales, 34, and Bejamin Rivera- Alvarado, 58, both Mexican nationals, were charged in federal indictments. Corrales is currently in custody in Utah. Alvarado was arrested Monday in Phoenix.