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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
Roger B. Handberg, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Jacksonville Gun Smugglers Sentenced To Six Years In Federal Prison

Jacksonville, Florida – Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan has sentenced Antonio Jose Melean Reyes (29, Jacksonville) and Gabriel Daniel Pinnace (32, Jacksonville) each to six years in federal prison for smuggling firearms outside of the United States. On January 3, 2024, Reyes pleaded guilty to smuggling firearms from the United States and conspiring to use a facility of interstate commerce in the commission of murder-for-hire. On January 17, 2024, Pinnace pleaded guilty to smuggling firearms from the United States and knowingly making a materially false statement during the purchase of a firearm.

According to court documents, on May 15, 2021, Reyes and Pinnace attempted to smuggle 3 firearms and 57 rounds of ammunition from Jacksonville to Venezuela. Prior to that date, Reyes enlisted Pinnace to purchase the firearms from federally licensed firearms dealers with knowledge that the firearms would be sent to Venezuela. Pinnace purchased the firearms after falsifying ATF Forms 4473, which are required for all firearms purchases. After purchasing the firearms, Pinnace attempted to destroy the serial numbers on the firearms and provided them to Reyes, who then concealed the firearms and ammunition in a futon that he attempted to mail using a freight forwarding service. Employees from the freight forwarder observed the firearms during a routine x-ray of the parcel and contacted law enforcement. On May 22, 2021, agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Miami seized the three firearms, which included a Glock 17 pistol and two Smith and Wesson M&P 15 rifles. Forensic technicians at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) restored the obliterated serial numbers, which allowed ATF agents in Jacksonville to trace the firearms back to Pinnace. On May 24, 2021, after learning law enforcement had seized the firearms, Pinnace reported the firearms as stolen.

Following Reyes’s arrest on unrelated state charges on August 11, 2023, federal agents from ATF, HSI, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) searched Reyes’s cellphone and found conversations between Reyes and Pinnace discussing trafficking firearms to Venezuela. Agents also learned Reyes was involved in a murder-for-hire plot. Between July 12 and August 9, 2023, Reyes and others surveilled two intended victims at various locations around Jacksonville, including outside their home, to murder the victims over a $60,000 debt. Reyes had also asked Pinnace to hire a hitman for $15,000. Federal agents intervened and arrested Reyes on a criminal complaint.

On August 26, 2023, ATF, HSI and CBP agents conducted an undercover operation to purchase firearms directly from Pinnace. That morning, Pinnace met with an undercover agent and agreed to sell the agent three firearms. That afternoon, agents surveilled Pinnace as he drove to a gun store in Jacksonville, where he falsified another ATF Form 4473 and purchased two firearms. After leaving the gun store, Pinnace met with the undercover agent and sold the agent the three firearms and instructed the agent to destroy the serial numbers. Agents also arrested Pinnace on a criminal complaint.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Aakash Singh.

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.

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