For Immediate Release
Federal Law Enforcement Seizes Rifles, Shotguns and Ammunition from Melrose Park Home of Suspected Drug Dealer
CHICAGO — Federal authorities have seized rifles, shotguns and ammunition from the Melrose Park home of a man who allegedly brought a gun to a drug deal.
JOSE MENDOZA illegally sold four rifles and ten rounds of ammunition on Nov. 21, 2017, in a parking lot of a fitness center in Melrose Park, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in federal court in Chicago. Unbeknownst to Mendoza, the buyer was an undercover law enforcement employee, the complaint states.
Mendoza and two co-defendants were arrested on Nov. 30, 2017, after they attempted to purchase two kilograms of cocaine from the undercover law enforcement employee in the parking lot of a home improvement store in Northlake, the complaint states. At the time of the attempted drug deal, Mendoza was carrying a handgun in his jacket pocket, according to the complaint. During a subsequent law enforcement search of Mendoza’s residence in Melrose Park, authorities discovered another handgun, two rifles, five shotguns, and ammunition, the complaint states.
The complaint charges Mendoza, 53, with possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. He and the two co-defendants, MIGUEL PINEDA, 48, of River Grove, and ALEJANDRO SANDOVAL, 25, of Waukegan, are also charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute. Detention hearings for Pineda and Sandoval are scheduled for today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox in Chicago. A detention hearing for Mendoza is set for Dec. 7, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. before Judge Cox.
The complaint was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Dennis A. Wichern, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Celinez Nunez, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Schiller Park Police Department and Elgin Police Department provided valuable assistance.
According to the complaint, the defendants attempted to purchase the cocaine for $57,000 in cash. The money was hidden in a trap compartment in the trunk of a BMW X6 driven by one of the defendants, the complaint states.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison. The drug charge is punishable by up to 40 years in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine M. O’Neill.