By Jared Taylor
MCALLEN, Texas (Reuters) - Two men were sentenced to 70 and 80 months in prison on Wednesday in a foiled plot to smuggle 147 assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition to Mexico's Zetas drug cartel, federal officials in Texas said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized the AK-47 rifles, 10,000 rounds of ammunition and 269 ammunition clips during an undercover investigation in May 2010, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said in a statement.
Rene Chapa, 51, recruited an undercover ICE agent posing as a truck driver to transport the weapons, ammunition and clips from Phoenix, Arizona, to Laredo, Texas, where they were to be taken on to Mexico, Magidson said.
The undercover agent transported the arms from Phoenix to Laredo, where Damaso Alberto Rueda-Cabrera, 30, arrived to pick up the weapons and was arrested, according to the statement.
Agents later arrested Chapa, who pleaded guilty to attempting to export firearms and was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison at a hearing Wednesday in Laredo.
Rueda-Cabrera, who previously was convicted of being an illegal immigrant in possession of a firearm, was sentenced to 80 months in prison.
Mexico's bloody drug cartels rely on assault rifles and other firearms from the United States to support their battles with rivals and army soldiers.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has repeatedly criticized loose gun laws in the United States, which he says contributed to more than 55,000 deaths in cartel-related clashes since 2007.
Calderon last month condemned U.S. gun laws as "mistaken" after a gunman killed 12 people and injured 58 others at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and urged lawmakers to tighten gun control and stop the flow of weapons into Mexico.
(Editing by Jane Sutton)