Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

Monday, April 09, 2012

Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney

Contact: Lauren Horwood

Bakersfield Man Pleads Guilty to Receipt of Grenades

FRESNO, Calif. – United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that John Mendoza, 24, of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty today to unlawful receipt of explosive material, and he agreed to forfeit several firearms and a large amount of ammunition.

According to court documents, on December 9, 2011, Mendoza, who did not have a license or permit to possess explosives, began negotiations to buy rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), grenades, mines, and Stingers (anti-aircraft missiles) from an undercover FBI agent. The agent told Mendoza that grenades were about $200 each. Mendoza said that even at $200 per grenade, I may only be able to buy one. The undercover agent later said he might be able to get grenades for Mendoza for $150 each. Mendoza and the agent then agreed on the price for grenades and a location to conduct the transaction.

On December 13, 2011, Mendoza asked if the undercover agent could do a demonstration of the grenades. The agent told Mendoza that "these are the real deal, you need a safe place, they’re loud and could draw unwanted attention."

On December 17, 2011, Mendoza met with the undercover agent in Mojave and bought two grenades for $300. After Mendoza placed the grenades in his car, he was arrested. According to the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives $150-200 is the going rate for illegal grenades.

Mendoza is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on June 25, 2012. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 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.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism Task Force with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney Duce Rice is prosecuting the case.