A U.S. citizen living in Tijuana pleaded guilty Friday in Los Angeles to a federal charge for planning to trade drugs for weapons, including machine guns and grenade launchers, which were intended for Mexican gangs.
Pedro Roberto Hernandez-Gomez, a 32-year-old ex-con, entered his plea to one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and is awaiting a June 11 sentencing date.
Hernandez-Gomez was charged last year in Los Angeles federal court with possession of machine guns, attempt to transport explosives, being a felon in possession of firearms, distribution of heroin and distribution of fentanyl, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
In December 2019, Hernandez-Gomez agreed to provide heroin and fentanyl in exchange for various machine guns, grenade launchers, grenades and handguns during what he believed were negotiations with traffickers but was, in fact, an ATF sting operation.
The following month, Hernandez-Gomez came to Los Angeles, where he provided more than two pounds each of heroin and fentanyl and renegotiated the amount of firearms and grenades in exchange for the heroin, according to a federal affidavit.
He agreed to exchange the narcotics for three Bushmaster machine guns, three grenade launchers and 72 inert grenades, which he thought were live explosives, according to his plea agreement.
Hernandez-Gomez, who as a convicted felon is not allowed to possess firearms, was arrested shortly after loading the firearms into his van, ATF officials said. According to the affidavit, he admitted he had planned to transport the guns and explosives back to Tijuana.
“This is a prime example of the type of violent criminal ATF targets along with the partnership of the U.S. Attorney's Office,” Carlos A. Canino, ATF Los Angeles Field Division special agent in charge, said after Hernandez- Gomez was charged.
“It is clear these machine guns and grenade launchers were destined for criminal groups in Mexico,” Canino said. “ATF works diligently to stop firearm trafficking schemes, so guns do not end up in the hands of criminals, gangs or cartels, and we will continue to do so.”