Mexican gun smuggling ringleader sentenced in Portland

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David Acosta-Rosales sentenced to 75 months in prison

David Acosta-Rosales was sentenced to 75 months in prison after leading a conspiracy illegally purchasing firearms in Portland and smuggling them to Mexico (US Attorney’s Office District of Oregon) December 2021.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A man was sentenced to 75 months in prison after leading a conspiracy illegally purchasing firearms in Portland and smuggling them to Mexico for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

The man, 51-year-old David Acosta-Rosales, was also sentenced to three years’ supervised release after his prison term.

On October 6, 2020, a Portland grand jury indicted Acosta-Rosales and 10 others with charges including conspiracy, possessing and receiving firearms with obliterated serial numbers, and smuggling goods from the U.S.

At least dating back to September 2019, Acosta-Rosales led a gun trafficking cell in the Portland area. Officials said he worked with high- and low-volume straw purchasers who passed on their illegal firearm purchases to Acosta-Rosales’ co-conspirators.

According to authorities, Acosta-Rosales received requests, including from his “’boss,’” in Mexico, for semi-automatic rifles, high-grade firearms, and explosive devices.

“These co-conspirators were particularly interested and focused on obtaining high-powered, especially deadly firearms such as AR-15 and AK-47 platform rifles, semi-automatic .50 caliber rifles, and premium, military-style combat assault rifles,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Oregon said.

Before guns would be transported out of Oregon, the gun serial numbers were destroyed. Authorities learned Acosta-Rosales helped illegally purchase and transfer about 150 guns to Mexico.

Additionally, officials discovered he also had a grenade launcher and a .50 caliber tripod-mounted semi-automatic firearm, but was arrested before smuggling them to Mexico.

Officials said one of Acosta-Rosales’ first recruits was his son, who later left the organization.

Seven co-conspirators pleaded guilty. Five were sentenced and two are pending sentencing. Three others are pending trial.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) investigated the case.

“ATF will tirelessly investigate anyone who traffics in firearms,” ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson said.

Mcpherson also noted “whether they are organizing an international trafficking cell, as Acosta-Rosales was doing, or they are straw purchasing firearms for trafficking purposes, we will work to ensure that they are caught and, through the U.S. Attorney’s Office, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” 

“This case represents two important public safety issues. First, no state, regardless of its location and proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, is beyond the reach of violent drug cartels. International drug trafficking may feel to most Americans like a distant, geopolitical issue with little connection to our own communities, but this could not be further from the truth. Second, every day across the U.S., drug traffickers and other criminals manipulate the legal process for obtaining firearms from licensed dealers in the U.S., of which there are hundreds of thousands,” Scott Erik Asphaug, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon said.

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