BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) – A man who admitted to purchasing firearms he knew would be destined by the United States for a Mexican drug cartel has been arrested in Texas after it was discovered that one of the weapons was linked to the deadly kidnapping of four Americans, according to federal court documents.
Roberto Lugardo Moreno made an initial appearance Monday in a federal court in Brownsville and was named public defender, who did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment. His detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
The abduction took place in Matamoros, Mexico, which is just across the border from Brownsville.
According to a federal complaint filed Saturday, Moreno was charged with conspiring to illegally export a firearm. The complaint alleged that he had admitted to buying firearms for people he knew would have supplied them to a member of the Gulf Cartel in Mexico.
The serial number of a firearm he purchased in October 2019 matched that of a weapon recovered by authorities that was linked to the March 3 kidnappings, according to the complaint. Moreno said he did not apply for a license to export the weapon from the United States to Mexico and knew it would be illegally exported, the complaint said.
Moreno told authorities he received $100 for the purchase of the weapons.
Four friends who were traveling to Mexico so one member of the group could have cosmetic surgery were involved in a drug cartel shootout in Matamoros. After a vehicle crashed into their van, men in tactical vests and assault rifles arrived in another vehicle and surrounded them.
Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown appeared to have been killed immediately and their bodies were loaded onto a truck with the two survivors, Eric Williams and Latavia McGee. The bodies and the two alive friends were found days later in a shack.