LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Oklahoma man will spend the next 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to smuggling guns for the Mexican cartel into Arkansas.

A federal judge sentenced 46-year-old Andrew Scott Pierson Wednesday afternoon after Pierson pleaded guilty in November 2021 to charges of conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act, admitting to prosecutors that he was ordering parts for guns in the United States in order to build automatic weapons in Mexico.

Federal officials said those automatic weapons were used to arm the Cartel Del Noreste and Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

The defense for Pierson argued that the government had no way to determine the impact of their client’s actions on others, so they pushed against a higher sentence.

Prosecutors challenged, though, that the six years Pierson spent working with the cartels justified a stiffer penalty.

An Arkansas man was the key to tracking down Pierson, prosecutors said, explaining that the man called law enforcement after being sent gun parts to modify. The man recognized the parts as counterfeit and contacted authorities.

Federal agents working as part of Operation: Thor’s Hammer traced the gun parts back to a group in Laredo, Texas. The agents said the parts were then sent across the border to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where Pierson would construct the automatic weapons.

“Mr. Pierson’s participation in the exportation and manufacturing of illegal firearms to Mexican cartels is an inexcusable contribution to the violence carried out by these groups,” United States Attorney Jonathan D. Ross said. “We are committed to prosecuting any case that will help prevent violent criminal organizations from obtaining firearms.”

Prosecutors said Pierson was the sixth person to plead guilty to charges in this case, adding that one of those who were indicted is still in Mexico as a fugitive.

Authorities said multiple agencies at the federal and local levels assisted in this investigation, incuding the agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration, attorneys from the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Pine Bluff Police Department.