For Immediate Release
L.A. Man Lands Over 11 Years in Prison for Firearms & Drug Trafficking
More Than 20 guns and Nearly 8 Pounds of Meth Seized
LOS ANGELES — An East Los Angeles man was sentenced today to 135 months in federal prison for his role in a firearms and drug trafficking ring that was targeted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
James Espinoza, 30, aka “Mouse,” was sentenced by United States District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr.
Espinoza pleaded guilty on July 25 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of trafficking firearms. Espinoza has been in federal custody in this case since his arrest in December 2022.
From June 2022 to November 2022, Espinoza and other co-conspirators sold approximately 20 firearms and nearly eight pounds of methamphetamine. Several of the firearms were privately manufactured and lacked serial numbers – commonly referred to as “ghost guns.” These firearms are oftentimes untraceable and pose a unique threat to public safety.
In controlled purchases, Espinoza brokered and sold 21 firearms.
- June 2, 2022, one firearm: a privately manufactured, .300 caliber rifle, bearing no manufacturer’s mark or serial number, and 38 rounds of assorted ammunition;
- June 7, 2022, five firearms: a Smith & Wesson, model 637 Airweight; .38 special caliber revolver, a Bryco Arms, model 48; .380 caliber pistol, a Ruger, model Mark II Target; .22 caliber pistol; and a Savage Arms, model Mark II, .22 caliber rifle;
- June 27, 2022, two firearms: a Walther, model P22, .22 caliber pistol; a Mossberg, model 510, 20-gauge shotgun;
- July 8, 2022, one firearm: a Riley Defense Inc., model RAK 47, 7.62x39mm caliber rifle;
- July 21, 2022, two firearms: one Ruger, model Super Blackhawk,.44 caliber revolver; a Smith & Wesson, model 14, .38 special caliber revolver;
- Aug. 21, 2022, two firearms on: a privately manufactured, Polymer80 model, 9mm caliber ghost gun pistol with a suspected silencer; an Intratec, model AB10, 9mm caliber pistol;
- Sept. 1, 2022, one firearm on: a Russian, model SKSS45, 7.62mm caliber rifle;
- Sept. 22, 2023, three firearms on: a Smith & Wesson, M&P40 Shield, .40 caliber pistol; a privately manufactured Glock-type, 9mm caliber pistol, bearing no manufacturer’s mark or serial number; a privately manufactured, AR-15 type, .223 caliber semi-automatic ghost gun rifle, bearing no manufacturer’s mark or serial number;
- Oct. 13, 2022, two firearms on: a Colt, model M4 Carbine, 5.56mm caliber rifle; a privately manufactured Polymer80, 9mm caliber ghost gun pistol, bearing no serial number;
- Nov. 14, 2022, two firearms on: Smith & Wesson, model M&P 15 receiver for a 5.56 caliber rifle; a Sig Sauer, model P232, .380 caliber pistol and 25 rounds of assorted ammunition.
Espinoza sold a total of 3.5 kilograms (7.8 pounds) of methamphetamine. Espinoza was selling firearms, and possessing those firearms despite being previously convicted of, and knowing he was convicted of, a felony. Specifically, in January 2018, Espinoza was convicted in Los Angeles Superior Court of second-degree robbery.
Federal law requires individuals who are engaged in the business of dealing in firearms be licensed by ATF. Espinoza did not have a license. Dealing in firearms without a license is a federal felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine up to $250,000 or both. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act passed in June 2022 established the new criminal “firearms trafficking” offense, 18 U.S.C. § 933, that makes it illegal for a person to transfer or receive, or attempt or conspire to transfer or receive, a firearm if they know or have reasonable cause to believe the use, carrying, possession or receipt would constitute any Federal or State felony. This new offense was used in this case and provided ATF with additional tools to combat illicit firearms trafficking.
This matter was investigated by ATF; the Los Angeles Police Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; and the Pasadena Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Colin S. Scott from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.