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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

June 30, 2011

Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney

Contact: Lauren Horwood

Fresno Bulldog Gang Member Faces Charges for Illegal Firearms Possession

FRESNO, Calif. – United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Marcelino Higareda, aka Leno, 20, of Fresno, with possessing a firearm that had not been registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Fresno Police Department. The investigation and prosecution are part of Project SAFE Neighborhoods, a cooperative effort of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies aimed at combating gun and gang crime. United States Attorney Kimberly A. Sanchez is prosecuting the case.

According to court documents, on June 20, 2011, Fresno police officers responded to reports of fighting between Hispanic and African American males at Homan Elementary School. Officers observed Higareda and two other Hispanic males walking away from the school. Officers contacted them, obtained their names, and discovered that Higareda had an outstanding arrest warrant. An officer advised Higareda that he would be conducting a search and asked Higareda whether he had anything on him. Higareda responded, "A cuete" (slang for a gun). The officer searched the backpack Higareda had been carrying and found a Savage Arms, Stevens model 311D, 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun, bearing no serial number.

After waiving his Miranda rights, Higareda admitted that he is an active East Side Bulldog gang member and has been active in the gang since he was 12 years old. Higareda said his brother-in-law called him and said he was having problems with some guys at Homan school. Higareda said he loaded the shotgun and put it in his backpack and went to school. He said that he was wearing Bulldog attire as he was representing the Bulldogs.

If convicted, Higareda faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.