Son of Mexico cartel boss pleads guilty to U.S. smuggling charge

By Karen Brooks AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The son of a former Mexico cartel boss faces up to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to trying to smuggle ammunition across the Texas border into Mexico, federal authorities said Wednesday. Osiel Cardenas, Jr., is the son of Osiel Cardenas-Guillen, who headed the Gulf Cartel in Northeastern Mexico until he was sentenced to 25 years in prison after his arrest in 2003. Cardenas, Jr., 23, of Brownsville, Texas, was arrested on Dec. 31, 2014, after his vehicle was stopped at the Matamoros International Port of Entry in Brownsville while he was attempting to cross into Mexico, according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Cardenas Jr. told officers with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who were conducting southbound inspections at the crossing, that he had no money, ammunitions or weapons to declare, the statement said. A subsequent search of his vehicle turned up 489 rounds of 9mm, .223mm and 7.62mm ammunition as well as two .223 rifle magazines, Magidson said. He admitted the ammunition was his and that he was trying to bring it into Mexico, in spite of signs posted prohibiting its transport into Mexico, and in spite of his having no export license, the statement said. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to federal charges of attempting to export ammunition into Mexico and will be sentenced in a hearing set for May 18. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. He will remain in federal custody until the hearing, the statement said. In 1999, Cardenas–Guillen and a dozen members of the cartel attempted to kidnap two federal agents in Matamoros, Cardenas' home base across the border from Brownsville and the operating base of the Gulf Cartel. That touched off an operation that led to his capture in March 2003 after a shootout in Matamoros. (Reporting by Karen Brooks; Editing by David Gregorio)