For Immediate Release
Multiple Men Indicted in Utah for Firearm Offenses, Including Allegedly Attempting To Smuggle 34 Guns Into Mexico
Salt Lake City, Utah – A federal grand jury in Utah returned an indictment charging five Salt Lake County residents, including two foreign nationals, with firearm offenses after speaker boxes full of guns were confiscated at the Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas.
Today’s announcement includes charges enacted as part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act signed into law last year.
According to court documents, between October 2022 and March 2023, in the District of Utah, Javier Catalan Bahena, 34, of Salt Lake City, Utah, Erasmo Martinez, 43, of Salt Lake City, Utah, Alvaro Martinez, 23, of Magna, Utah, Filiberto Tapia Ocampo, 50, of West Valley City, Utah, and Oscar Martinez, 24, of West Valley City, Utah, conspired with each other, and against the United States to deceive a licensed firearm dealer during the illegal purchasing of firearms. As charged in the indictment, in January 2023, Ocampo purchased two Beretta M9 pistols and a Ruger rifle using Catalan Bahena’s credit card and stated on an ATF form he was the actual purchaser of the firearms. Between February 3, 2023, and March 16, 2023, Erasmo Martinez purchased a Zastava ZPA M70 rifle from Oscar Martinez, which was later recovered at the border. In February 2023, Alvaro Martinez purchased a Beretta M9 using Catalan Bahena’s credit card and stated on an ATF form he was the actual purchaser of the firearm. The Beretta M9 was also later recovered at the border. In March 2023, Alvaro Martinez purchased an Escort Rifle and stated on an ATF form that he was the actual purchaser of the firearm. Approximately nine days later, the Escort Rifle was recovered at the border in Eagle Pass, Texas. Between March 7, 2023, and March 16, 2023, in the District of Utah, Catalan Bahena and Erasmo Martinez arranged for drivers in Salt Lake City, Utah, to transport speaker boxes full of firearms to Mexico. Subsequently, the drivers were stopped in Eagle Pass, Texas, and 34 firearms were discovered and seized.
Javier Catalan Bahena, Erasmo Martinez, Alvaro Martinez, Filiberto Ocampo, and Oscar Martinez are charged with conspiracy to make false statements during acquisition of firearms. Additional individual charges include but are not limited to; smuggling goods from the United States; straw purchase of a firearm; and false statement during the acquisition of firearms. The defendants had their initial court appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge at the Orrin G. Hatch United States District Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah.
U.S. Attorney Trina A. Higgins for the District of Utah made the announcement.
The case is being investigated jointly by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and West Valley City Police Department.
An Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah is prosecuting the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.