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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

Los Angeles Field Division

For Immediate Release

Thursday, April 26, 2018
Contact: Los Angeles Field Division

Joint Investigation Takedown in Southern California Nets Drug and Firearms Traffickers

ANTA ANA, California. – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Anaheim Police Department (APD), Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), and the FBI worked together to serve federal search and arrest warrants early this morning targeting violent criminal activity at six Southern California residences.

These federal and local law enforcement agencies collaborated over nine months to target firearms and narcotic trafficking in Orange County. The investigation resulted in the controlled purchase of 35 firearms, and more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine. The guns purchased included a grenade, eight shotguns, 13 rifles, and 13 handguns. Several of the seized firearms were short-barrel AR-15 style rifles and sawed-off shotguns. A grenade as a destructive device is considered a firearm under federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3).

Three search warrants were executed in Victorville, California, one in Anaheim, California and two in Santa Ana, California. One of ATF’s national Special Response Teams (SRT) served arrest and search warrants at one of the Santa Ana locations.

Law enforcement arrested its seven targets and an additional individual. Seized today at the residences were 13 more firearms to include various types of rifles and handguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, thousands of dollars, methamphetamine and other narcotics.

“ATF reduces violent crime by partnering with its local, state and federal law enforcement partners to identify, investigate, and arrest those who supply firearms to criminal elements, and who oftentimes deal drugs to grow their enterprise,” said the ATF Los Angeles Field Division Special Agent in Charge Bill McMullan. “We have removed 30 plus firearms from the streets that were in the hands of criminals. This is a good day for the community and another productive day for ATF and its law enforcement partners.”

“Removing guns off our streets is one of our highest policing priorities in addressing violent crime and specifically gang related crime in our City,” said Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin. “Working collaboratively with our FBI and ATF Task Force partners, provides for a force multiplier of impact in addressing community safety. We will continue to focus on gang investigations that impact our local and regional communities.”

“The Anaheim Police Department is committed to reducing and eliminating gang violence and its impacts to our community. This joint investigation with our federal and local partners removed guns, illicit drugs and violent criminals from the streets of Anaheim. The diligent work by the committed personnel in each of the involved agencies has made our cities safer. Along with prevention and intervention efforts, this investigation is another example that we will continue to investigate and arrest gang members who commit crimes in our neighborhoods, and who victimize residents through violence and intimidation,” said Anaheim’s Acting Police Chief Julian Harvey.

In August 2017, APD and ATF began a pro-active investigation targeting several gang members and their associates’ criminal activity. Gang members were involved in the trafficking of firearms, methamphetamine, and heroin.

To address the flow of firearms to violent street criminals, law enforcement worked to identify and stop the illegal sale of firearms to prohibited users. The sources of the firearms were also engaged in the trafficking of methamphetamine into Orange County.

Victor Vasquez, 27, of Victorville, is charged with possession of an unregistered firearm, specifically a short-barreled rifle, as defined in Title 26, U.S.C. §, 5845(a) and 5845(c). It had not been registered to Vasquez in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, as required by Chapter 53, Title 26, U.S. Code, in violation of Title 26, U.S.C. § 5861(d).

Juanita Hernandez, 38, of Santa Ana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C. § 846, 841(a)(1), and (b)(1)(A)(viii).

Maricela Hernandez, 33, of Santa Ana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C. § 846, 841(a)(1), and (b)(1)(A)(viii).

Jose Castro, 29, of Santa Ana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C. § 846, 841(a)(1), and (b)(1)(A)(viii).

Emilio Moure, 38, of Victorville, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C. § 846, 841(a)(1), and (b)(1)(A)(viii).

Maria Baltazar, 32, of Santa Ana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C. § 846, 841(a)(1), and (b)(1)(A)(viii).

Kathia Granados, 27, of Anaheim, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C. § 846, 841(a)(1), and (b)(1)(A)(viii).

ATF works to reduce violent crime by targeting and dismantling those criminal groups and gangs posing the greatest threat to public safety. Through collaboration with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, ATF identifies and removes violent criminals from our communities. For more information about Los Angeles ATF visit https://www.atf.gov/los-angeles-field-division and follow ATF on Twitter @ATFHQ or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HQATF.

 

Field Division: Los Angeles Field Division