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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

Monday, February 06, 2012

Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney

Contact: Lauren Horwood

Fresno Bulldog Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Illegal Firearms Possession

FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Marcelino Higareda, aka Leno, 21, of Fresno, pleaded guilty today to possessing a firearm that had not been registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Fresno Police Department. The investigation and prosecution are part of Project SAFE Neighborhoods, a cooperative effort of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies aimed at combating firearms and violent crimes. Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly A. Sanchez is prosecuting the case.

According to court documents, on June 20, 2011, Fresno Police officers responded to Homan Elementary School at 1602 West Harvard Avenue in Fresno for reports of fighting between Hispanic and African American males. Officers saw Higareda with two other Hispanic males walking away and spoke with them. Upon learning that Higareda had a warrant for his arrest, they arrested him. Higareda told officers he had a gun in his backpack and the officers found a sawed–off Savage Arms, Stevens model 311D, 12 gauge shotgun, bearing no serial number.

Higareda told officers that he was an East Side Bulldog gang member and had been active in the gang since he was twelve years old. He said he came to the school when his brother–in–law called him and said he was having problems with some guys. Higareda said that he had heard of constant problems that bulldog gang members were having in the area so he decided to load the shotgun and bring it for his protection. He said that he was wearing bulldog attire because it was part of him representing the bulldogs. The shotgun was sawed off and not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

Higareda is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on April 30, 2012. The maximum statutory penalty for the charges is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 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.