U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Central California
Central District of California
For Immediate Release
December 1, 2010
André Birotte Jr., United States Attorney
Contact: Thom Mrozek, Public Affairs Officer
Joint LAPD - ATF INvestigation Into Illegal Gun sales Leads to Indictment of Nine on Federal Weapons Charges
LOS ANGELES — Federal and local authorities this morning arrested five defendants who were named by a federal grand jury in a 19—count indictment that alleges illegal firearms sales and drug trafficking offenses.
Two of the nine defendants named in the indictment were already in state custody, and authorities continue to search for one fugitive. An investigation is continuing into the identity of the ninth defendant named in the indictment.
The indictment, which was returned on September 28, outlines a series of firearms transactions in which guns — including machine guns, sawed—off shotguns and assault rifles — were sold to undercover operatives from April 2009 through June 2010.
During this morning’s operation, ATF agents and LAPDofficers seized 12 firearms, including seven handguns and one machine gun, and at least five pounds of marijuana. With this morning’s seizures, this investigation has resulted in a total of 35 firearms being taken off the streets.
In addition to the defendants arrested in the federal case, authorities this morning arrested five suspects who are expected to be prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
One of ATF’s strategies for preventing violent crime is to disrupt and dismantle underground firearms trafficking pipelines and take down those responsible for supplying violent offenders with crime guns, said John A. Torres, Special Agent in Charge, ATF Los Angeles Field Division.
This investigation shows that ATF is at the frontline in combating violent crime through partnerships with fellow law enforcement agencies. ATF will continue to seek out and eradicate those threatening the safety of our communities.
As Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, I have been committed to working closely with our federal partners, said;LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
This morning, in a joint task force with our ATF partners, detectives from LAPDGang and Narcotics Division executed a federal warrant which targeted illegal gun trafficking. I am very pleased with the results of today’s operation. I will continue my commitment in our fight to reduce crime in our communities and to keeping these dangerous weapons off the streets.
The nine defendants named in the indictment, five of whom were arrested this morning, are:
The 19-count indictment specifically alleges conspiracy (statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison), engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license (five years maximum), alien in possession of a firearm and/or ammunition (10 years maximum), felon in possession of a firearm and/or ammunition (10 years maximum), sale of a firearm to a prohibited person (10 years maximum), possession of an unregistered firearm (10 years maximum), illegal alien found in the United States following deportation (two years maximum); conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (20 years maximum), and distribution of methamphetamine (20 years maximum).
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
The investigation that led to the indictment and today's arrests was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Los Angeles Police Department.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Max B. Shiner Violent and Organized Crime Section (213) 894-3308