LOS ANGELES – Four people were arrested and charged Friday for their roles in a suspected gun ring that sold assault rifles and other high-powered weapons, with one man claiming he is a member of a notorious Mexican drug cartel, authorities said.
Edgardo Prado Casteneda, Vicente Garcia, Scott Blanks and Victor Velasquez were arrested by federal authorities. Casteneda and Velasquez face drug and weapons-related charges, while Garcia and Blanks were charged only with weapons violations.
Court documents show that a paid informant infiltrated the ring and managed to buy assault rifles, pistols and a shotgun known as a "Streetsweeper."
Casteneda, who ran a landscaping business, told the informant that he was responsible for methamphetamine sales in parts of the San Gabriel Valley and had "committed several murders" for the La Familia cartel while in Mexico, according to an affidavit.
He also said he wanted to hire hitmen for the cartel to kill people who live in Southern California, court documents show. Casteneda said the going rate was $5,000 for each slaying, authorities said.
Authorities couldn't immediately substantiate his claims.
As recent as two weeks ago, Casteneda told the informant that he needed to collect a $3 million drug debt from a cartel boss known as "Cuete" who lives in Azusa, the affidavit said. Casteneda claims one of Cuete's couriers who was transporting drugs to Mexico had been arrested. The courier then provided information that led to the arrest of another high-ranking cartel member in Mexico City, Casteneda claims.
"When you in the game, you get charged when you make a mistake," Casteneda told the informant.
Casteneda believed Cuete had $5 million in his house and the informant would get a portion of the money if he helped him collect it, according to the affidavit. Casteneda was arrested before his alleged plan was carried out.
It wasn't immediately known if the four men had retained attorneys.