Man sentenced to 10 years for attempting to traffic machine gun to cartel members


A Fort Worth man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for firearms trafficking linked to a Mexican drug cartel, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Texas announced on Friday.

Daniel Loyola, 24, pleaded guilty to possession of a military-grade machine gun. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Reed O’ Connor for attempting to traffic the gun to a Mexican drug cartel.

“Thanks to excellent undercover work by ATF and Texas DPS, we have thwarted a firearms trafficker intent on sending dangerous guns to a drug cartel,” said U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton. “The Justice Department is committed to stemming the flow of firearms across the southern border.”

“The fight to keep high-powered weapons out of the hands of drug cartels and narco-terrorists is real and here in North Texas. ATF and our partners are working tirelessly to protect both the citizens of the United States and Mexico from the scourge of violence perpetrated by weapons like this. Mr. Loyola’s ten-year sentence should serve as a warning to others looking to get into the firearms trafficking business,” said Jeffrey C. Boshek, ATF Dallas Field Division special agent in charge.

Loyola posted on Instagram that he possessed a machine gun, a silencer, and a .50 caliber rifle — a firearm commonly sought by Mexican drug cartels — and that he wished to buy a high-caliber machine gun, according to court documents.

An undercover agent initiated a conversation with Loyola after seeing the posts. Loyola agreed to purchase an M-60 from the undercover agent for $20,000 in cash, and mentioned that the payment would be coming from Mexico.

Loyola met with two undercover agents on Oct. 25, 2022, in a parking lot in Fort Worth. He handed over the money, and the agents presented Loyola with a cardboard box containing an M-60 in three pieces, which were the frame/receiver and two barrels.

One of the undercover agents explained that the firearm was fully automatic to which Loyola responded, “yeah, I know.” After paying over $20,000 in cash for the firearm, Loyola began to take possession of the machine gun and was immediately taken into custody.

Following his arrest, Loyola admitted that he had purchased the M-60 on behalf of an individual who worked for a Mexican drug cartel. He stated that he’d sold multiple firearms to the man before, and that the .50 caliber rifle he’d posted on Instagram was also purchased on the individual’s behalf.

Judge O’Connor found that the defendant was engaged in the trafficking of firearms, and applied an enhancement to his sentence based on that finding at Friday’s sentencing hearing.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ Dallas Field Division and the Texas Department of Public Safety conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Fort Worth Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Levi Thomas prosecuted the case.

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