HOUSTON – The 17th individual involved in a firearms trafficking cell has entered a guilty plea to eight charges related to the scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Gustavo Gomez-Valenzuela, 49, a Mexican citizen who illegally resided in Houston, admitted to aiding and abetting a false statement on a firearms purchasing form, alien in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, aiding and abetting smuggling goods from the United States, international money laundering conspiracy and illegal reentry after removal.
Gomez-Valenzuela was the leader of a Houston-based gun trafficking cell that was sending firearms to Mexico. As part of his plea, he admitted to providing funds to purchase hundreds of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition, smuggling both firearms and ammunition to Mexico, possessing firearms and selling kilogram quantities of meth.
He received the firearms from other individuals in the organization who purchased the firearms from Khalid Abdulaziz, the owner and manager of Zeroed In Armory. While acting in the capacity of a federal firearms licensee in Houston, Abdulaziz sold the majority of the firearms to others charged in this case. Those people have admitted to working with Abdulaziz and making false statements in the purchase of firearms, thereby illegally purchasing them.
Abdulaziz previously pleaded guilty to six counts of aiding and abetting a false statement on ATF Form 4473.
As a result of the scheme, approximately 500 firearms were purchased and ultimately trafficked to transnational criminal organizations in Mexico.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Stabe and Lisa M. Collins prosecuted the case.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation with the assistance of Homeland Security Investigations, IRS – Criminal Investigation, Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage.