McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) – A 42-year-old man from Harlingen, Texas, has pleaded guilty to smuggling a firearm that is linked to the March 3 murder and kidnappings of Americans in Matamoros, Mexico, U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani announced.

Roberto Lugardo Moreno Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Brownsville to aiding the smuggling of a firearm into Mexico knowing it was intended for members of the Gulf Cartel, Hamdani said in a statement.

The Diamondback AR-15 pistol was bought at a pawn shop on Oct. 17, 2019, and Moreno admitted buying it for another person who he knew would give it to a member of the Gulf Cartel in Mexico, Hamdani said.

“These weapons often contribute to fueling the violence committed by drug cartels, which drastically affects communities both in Mexico and in the United States,” Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge, Craig Larrabee said. “ 

“All too often, firearms are trafficked into Mexico where they end up in the hands of criminals who use them to murder, rob and extort innocent people,” Hamdani said. “Moreno helped smuggle a firearm for criminals he knew were in the Gulf Cartel who then allegedly used it to murder and kidnap American citizens. This case is a textbook example of the dangers involved when criminals transport weapons into Mexico.”

Two Americans were killed and two kidnapped on March 3 after their vehicle was struck on the street in the border town of Matamoros, which is located across the Rio Grande from Brownsville. The victims were held for four days in a remote shack by the Gulf Coast in an area controlled by the Gulf Cartel.

Moreno faces up to 10 years in federal prison and $250,000 fine when U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera on Aug. 9 imposes a sentence.

Until that time, Moreno will remain in federal custody, Hamdani said.