U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of California
Eastern District of California
For Immediate Release
October 11, 2012
Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney
Contact: Lauren Horwood
Three Fresno Men Indicted On Charges Related To The Theft Of Firearms From Sporting Goods Stores
FRESNO, Calif. – A federal grand jury returned an indictment today against three Fresno residents charging them in a firearm theft conspiracy, announced Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney, and Joseph M. Riehl, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), San Francisco Field Division.
Joseph Vasquez, aka Wheezo, 24; Eric Moore, 35; and Jose Arellano, aka Fuzzy, 26, were charged with conspiring to steal firearms from a federal firearms licensee and possession of stolen firearms. Moore and Arellano were also charged with being felons in possession of firearms.
Criminals who possess firearms illegally have a propensity to commit violent crimes and instill fear through intimidation and violence, stated Special Agent in Charge Riehl. ATFs priority is to combat violent crime and by partnering with other law enforcement partners we are successfully targeting, disarming, and removing them from our communities.
Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims stated: This case is a great example of how local and federal law enforcement can work together to hold violent criminals accountable. No matter where they go to commit their crimes, we will work jointly to keep our communities safe.
Fresno Chief of Police Jerry Dyer said: Keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals is a top priority for the Fresno Police Department. We will continue to work closely with allied agencies and the U.S. Attorneys Office to ensure these individuals are removed from society and placed where they belong, in prison.
According to court documents, on August 14, 2012, Moore and Arellano drove from Fresno to Riverside County and broke into Turners Outdoorsman in Corona. They allegedly stole approximately 12 rifles and returned to Fresno. Moore, Arellano and Vasquez began to sell the stolen firearms. Turners Outdoorsman is a federal firearms licensee. On August 28, 2012, Moore and Arellano went to Torrance and allegedly broke into the Turners Outdoorsman there. They stole approximately 42 firearms, brought them back to Fresno, and with Vasquez, began to sell them.
On September 25, 2012, law enforcement officers served multiple search warrants in Fresno, related to the stolen firearms. Among the items seized were three rifles, approximately $10,000 in cash, and photographs of individuals holding firearms.
On or about September 10, 2012, Vasquez knowingly possessed an HS Products, Model XE9 subcompact, caliber 9 mm pistol, which was stolen from Torrance Turners Outdoorsman on August 28, 2012.
The following guns were stolen in the two thefts:
- Armalite .223-caliber rifle
- 2 - Bushmaster Firearms .223-caliber rifle
- 3 - Colt .223-caliber rifles
- 4 - Del-Ton Inc. 556-caliber rifles
- DPMS Inc. 308-caliber rifle
- DPMS Inc. 556-caliber rifle
- 3 - DPMS Inc. .223-caliber rifles
- Hi-Point .40-caliber rifle
- Hi-Point .45-caliber rifle
- Hi-Point 9 mm rifle
- 2 - HS Products .40-caliber pistols
- 2 - HS Products .45-caliber pistols
- 4 - HS Products 9 mm pistols
- J P Enterprises Inc. .223-caliber rifle
- Lewis Machine and Tool Company 556-caliber rifle
- Masterpiece Arms 9 mm rifle
- Palmetto State Armory 556-caliber rifle
- 2 - PTR-91 308-caliber rifles
- Romarm 762-caliber rifle
- 2 - Sig Sauer .45-caliber pistols
- 4 - Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistols
- 2 - Smith and Wesson 556-caliber rifles
- 2 - Smith and Wesson 9 mm pistols
- 3 - Smith and Wesson .357-caliber revolvers
- 3 - Smith and Wesson .38-caliber revolvers
- 3 - Smith and Wesson .44-caliber revolvers
- Smith and Wesson .223-caliber rifle
- Smith and Wesson .22-caliber revolver
This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Police Departments of Torrance, Fresno, Corona, and Gilroy, Fresno County Sheriffs Office, the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), and the Los Angeles District Attorneys Office.
The maximum penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of stolen firearms is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for conspiracy is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentences, 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 defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.