LAREDO, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Three individuals have admitted to their roles in a Cartel del Noreste (CDN) conspiracy.

Luis Ramos, 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit international money laundering on Thursday.

Co-conspirators Manuel Perez-Ortiz, 40, and Arturo Mata Jr., 55, pleaded guilty to their roles in the same conspiracy on April 28, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

In May of 2020, members of CDN began negotiations to purchase $500,000 worth of high-powered weapons that were intended to be smuggled into Mexico. Weapons included machine guns and grenades.

CDN planned to use them in fights against rival cartels to further their drug smuggling activities, according to the press release.

On June 19, 2020, Ramos and Perez-Ortiz met with whom they thought were U.S.-based weapon facilitators at an H-E-B parking lot. There, they showed the money they had to purchase the weapons. 

Authorities stopped Ramos and Perez-Ortiz after they departed the parking lot. Law enforcement discovered a cardboard box inside the vehicle containing $500,000 in cash and a firearm in Perez-Ortiz’s possession.

Ramos and Mata assisted in driving Perez-Ortiz to and from the meetings to discuss the sale of weapons. Mata also provided surveillance, according to the release.

In their plea, Ramos and Perez-Ortiz admitted they concocted a story to tell authorities that the money came from the sale of a ranch in Mexico and they were planning to buy land in Laredo to build a home.

All three co-conspirators are scheduled for sentencing in the near future. They each face up to 20 years in prison, a possible $1 million maximum fine, and forfeiture of $500,000.

The three individuals will remain in custody pending that hearing.