Valley man pleads guilty in grenade launcher case

MCALLEN — A Brownsville man caught up in a plot to smuggle a grenade launcher into Mexico has pleaded guilty for his role in the crime. Miguel Angel Gutierrez stood before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to violation of the registration and licensing requirements related to the export of defense materials — count 2 of the indictment filed against him.

His formal guilty plea comes nearly a month after the co-defendant in the case, Jose Martin Carmona- Gonzalez, 45, of Brownsville, also pleaded guilty to the same charge, court records show.

The 23-year-old man was arrested in late May at a port of entry in Brownsville attempting to cross into Mexico with a grenade launcher barrel inside his vehicle.

Agents with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations seized an M203 launcher barrel from Gutierrez. The barrel had been mailed to Carmona-Gonzalez days before.

Three days earlier, federal agents had received a tip about a launcher barrel expected to be delivered to an unidentified man, later identified as Carmona-Gonzalez, in Brownsville, according to the complaint against the two.

On May 18, agents approached Carmona-Gonzalez, who they had under surveillance, when he arrived at a mailbox drop to pick up what later turned out to be the launcher barrel.

In his interview with agents, Carmona-Gonzalez told agents the barrel was supposed to be smuggled into Mexico by someone else.