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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Middle District of Florida

For Immediate Release

June 7, 2012

Robert E. O’Neill, United States Attorney

Contact: William Daniels
(813) 274-6388

Firearms Trafficker Senteced to More Than 3 Years in Federal Prison

Orlando, Florida – Senior United States District Judge Gregory A. Presnell today sentenced a 39 year-old New Jersey man, Luis Velazquez-Pinero, to 38 months in federal prison for interstate trafficking of firearms and making a false statement to a federal agency. Velazquez-Pinero entered a guilty plea to the charges on January 12, 2012.

According to the facts described at sentencing, in May 2011, federal agents intercepted a passenger van at the Port of Jacksonville that contained 64 firearms. The van had been destined for Puerto Rico. A review of the shipping documents revealed the contact phone number for Velazquez-Pinero. Subsequently, in June 2011, agents intercepted a checked bag containing undeclared firearms parts that Velazquez-Pinero had attempted to take with him on a flight to Puerto Rico, from Orlando International Airport.

On July 1, 2011, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) observed an unlicensed gun dealer sell 22 additional firearms directly to Velazquez-Pinero in a parking lot, in Oviedo, Florida. Velazquez-Pinero loaded the weapons into his automobile and left the area. During a subsequent traffic stop, a consensual search of his automobile revealed the 21 handguns and an AK-47 style rifle that he had just purchased. Agents seized the firearms.

Further investigation revealed that Velazquez-Pinero is, in fact, a New Jersey resident and that he had traveled to Florida specifically to acquire firearms for the purpose of illegally reselling them without a license. Velazquez-Pinero had acquired at least 200 firearms in this manner. ATF’s Licensing Center confirmed that Velazquez-Pinero did not have, nor had he ever applied for, a federal firearms license. As a New Jersey resident, Velazquez-Pinero is prohibited under federal law from traveling to other states to acquire firearms for resale in the absence of a federal firearms license.

This case was jointly investigated by ATF and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI). It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.

It is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program – a nationwide, gun-violence reduction strategy led by ATF. United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill, along with Virginia O’Brien, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, is coordinating the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort here in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.