Cleveland men arrested after selling undercover agents posing as Mexican cartel nearly 100 firearms
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Two Cleveland men were arrested earlier this month after selling nearly 100 firearms to agents undercover as members of the Mexican cartel.
According to a release from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Yuendry Rodrigues Hilario, 28, and Saleh Yusuf Saleh, 24, both of Cleveland, were arrested on March 2 after an almost two-year-long investigation.
Since 2021, undercover agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have been posing as Mexican cartel members, being introduced to Rodriguez Hilario as a trafficker of firearms being smuggled into Mexico.
Rodriguez Hilario and others discussed buying AR-15s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
The DOJ said one of the co-conspirators mentioned he sold AR-15s and AK-47s to El Salvadorans and had cocaine available for distribution.
He also offered fentanyl to one of the agents to make pills.
Starting in late-2021, the men sold or arranged to sell at least 90 rifles and one machine gun to undercover agents in Florida and Cleveland.
In Nov. 2022, an undercover agent told Rodriguez Hilario that he needed to purchase more.
On March 2, he arranged to deliver the 40 more firearms to the agents.
Saleh, who made the firearms, came to the meeting with Rodriguez Hilario and the agents.
After inspecting the firearms, undercover agents arrested both Rodriguez Hilario and Saleh.
Both admitted to trafficking firearms in interviews with agents, and were charged with:
- Conspiracy to transfer firearms to commit a felony and/or drug trafficking crime
- Possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking
- Illegal transfer of firearms
- Unlicensed firearm dealing
- Conspiracy to violate federal gun laws
If convicted on all counts, they each face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
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