For Immediate Release
Tulare County Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking Charge and Illegal Possession of a Machine Gun
FRESNO, Calif. —Francisco Fernandez, 26, of Earlimart, pleaded guilty Monday to possessing with the intent to distribute cocaine and possession of an unregistered firearm, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, a search warrant was executed at Fernandez’s residence in April 2019. During the search, federal agents found and seized scales, drug paraphernalia and cocaine. Fernandez admitted to possessing the cocaine for sale to others. Apart from the narcotics, federal agents also found “auto-sear” devices that are used to convert semi-automatic firearms to fire as fully automatic machineguns. In a subsequent search of Fernandez’s storage unit, agents located and seized several firearms, which included a Glock handgun that Fernandez had converted into a machinegun.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Newman is prosecuting the case.
Fernandez is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on Dec. 16. Fernandez faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for the distribution of cocaine charge and a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the possession of an unregistered firearm charge. The actual sentence, 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.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
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