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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

April 2, 2012

Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney

Contact: Lauren Horwood

26 Stolen Military Machineguns Lead to Indictments and Convictions in Fresno Federal Court

FRESNO, Calif. – United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that Chief United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii sentenced Mark Nino de Rivera, 22, of Fresno, California to 30 months imprisonment for making false statements to federal agents. That sentence is the latest in a series of indictments, convictions, and sentencings resulting from an intensive investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

According to court documents, on or about July 15, 2011, twenty six fully automatic AK-74 machineguns were stolen from the Fort Irwin Military base. Thirteen of the stolen machineguns were recovered and thirteen defendants have been charged in the Fresno division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California with a variety of charges related to this theft. The U.S. Army soldiers accused of conspiring to steal the weapons are currently being prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

In this case, Nino de Rivera was convicted of making false statements to federal agents. He admitted that on August 31, 2011, he lied when he told ATF Special Agents that he had never owned a cell phone, had not spoken with a co-defendant in years, and did not know anything about the stolen firearms. In fact, about a month earlier, Nino de Rivera discussed firearms that had been stolen from the military base with that co-defendant, and the defendant did own a cell phone.

Several of Nino de Rivera’s co-defendants have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced. Several await sentencing and six await trial. As to the individuals who are under indictment, the charges against them are only allegations and all the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.