Staff Writer Alex Branch reports that Victor Manuel Villalpando of Burleson (right) and Norberto Estrada of Fort Worth (below) were stopped on Oct. 23 by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper.
The trooper stopped their vehicle because of a missing front license plate. Villalpando, the trooper said, seemed nervous.
In the back the trooper found "numerous assault-type rifles, ammunition, loaded rifle magazines, body armor, 20 ski masks and three loaded handguns."
"Drugs are being smuggled up here north from Mexico, and guns are going back down there in return," said special agent Tom Crowley of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "It’s a big problem."
Meanwhile, an FBI intelligence report states that the Mexican Gulf Cartel is stockpiling high-powered weapons and recruiting local gang members on both sides of the border to prepare for possible confrontations with U.S. law enforcement.
The regional leader of the cartel’s enforcer group, the Zetas, Jaime "El Hummer" Gonzalez Duran, has ordered dozens of reinforcements to Reynosa, Mexico, across the river from McAllen, the report stated.
"These replacements are believed to be armed with assault rifles, bulletproof vests and grenades and are occupying safe houses throughout the McAllen area," according to the report, which was obtained by The McAllen Monitor.
-- Bill Miller