SALT LAKE CITY — Two men accused of threatening to kill a Utah man's family if he didn't purchase weapons for them have been charged in federal court with smuggling goods into the U.S. from Mexico.
In 2009, a Barrett .50-caliber rifle was recovered by authorities in Nogales, Mexico. The weapon was recovered in a truck stolen out of Scottsdale, Ariz., with three men inside.
Investigators soon discovered that the weapon they found in Mexico was purchased just eight days earlier on KSL.com.
The man who bought the rifle, whose name was not listed in court documents for fear of retribution, initially made up a story to authorities. He later admitted, however, that he gave the weapon to "apparent Mexican drug cartel associates" who tried to "convince" him at gunpoint on several occasions to buy the rifle for them because they couldn't.
The man said he worked at a local sporting goods store in 2009 that was authorized to sell firearms. A group of Spanish-speaking men began visiting him regularly, according to the complaint, and invited him to lunch one day.
At lunch, they told the man they wanted him to buy a firearm for them. The man declined.
As the men were walking back to the cars in the parking lot, "A gun was held to (the man's) head and he was told he would purchase guns," the complaint states.
The man was then threatened that if he did not comply, his family would be killed and he would be forced to watch it happen, federal prosecutors wrote in the complaint. The group seeking the gun then accurately described the car that the man's wife drove and where she worked.
The man was initially reluctant to purchase the weapon, and hesitant to turn it over after he bought it. But after several visits by the group that wanted the rifle, he finally conceded, court records state.
"In fear for his life, (the man) decided to transfer the Barrett rifle to his assailants," the complaint states.
During some of their visits, the men appeared to call someone in Mexico and then would tell the victim, "They're getting mad up there," according to the complaint.
Juan Armando Darancou-Corrales, 34, and Bejamin Rivera-Alvarado, 58, both Mexican nationals, were charged in federal court. Corrales is currently in custody in Utah. Alvarado was arrested Monday in Phoenix, where he also faces charges.
The hand-off was made by some railroad tracks near 3300 South and I-15, the complaint states.
“The ATF will continue to target violent criminals who participate in firearms trafficking,” Marvin Richardson, the special agent in charge of the Denver office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said of the complaint. "These crime guns, in the hands of criminals, can cause immeasurable damage to innocent victims and will not be tolerated.”