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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

August 30, 2012

Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney

Contact: Lauren Horwood

PROJECT SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS NEWS: Taking Felons with Firearms off the Streets

The PSN initiative brings together federal, state and local law enforcement to combat gun and gang crime. At the core of PSN is increased federal prosecution to incapacitate chronic violent offenders as well as to communicate a credible deterrent threat to potential gun offenders. United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announces the following actions in federal PSN cases.

These cases are the product of investigations by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the ATF, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Sanger Police Department, MAGEC, the Sanger Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol.

Illegal Alien Indicted On Firearms Charge

A federal grand jury today charged Onofre Espinoza-Torres, aka, Perdo Onofre Espinoza, 69, of Mexico, with felony firearms possession. According to court documents, Espinoza was apprehended in Stanislaus County with firearms that he was not allowed to possess on account of being an illegal alien in the United States. Assistant United States Attorney Yasin Mohammad is prosecuting the case.

Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly A. Sanchez is prosecuting the following cases:

Sanger Man Indicted for Firearms Charges

Vincent Cruz-Maestas, aka, Darky, 32, of Sanger, was indicted today for being a felon in possession of a firearm and for possession of an unregistered firearm. According to the indictment, on August 22, 2012, Cruz-Maestas had a prior felony conviction for carrying a dirk and dagger and was in possession of a Marlin, .22-caliber rifle with a barrel length of less than 16? and an overall length of less than 26?. It was not registered in the National Firearms Registry. He is scheduled for arraignment on August 31, 2012.

Two Fresno Men Sentenced for Illegal Possession of Firearms

On Monday, August 27, 2012, United States District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill sentenced Garry Sampson, 34, to four years and nine months in prison and Rodney Heather to 21 months in prison. According to court documents, on January 16, 2012, Sampson was driving a car when officers of the California Highway Patrol attempted to stop him for nonfunctioning tail lights. Sampson ran from the car and tossed a gun from his waistband while officers were chasing him. Officers recovered a loaded Glock, Model 22, .40-caliber pistol with a high-capacity magazine. The magazine had 23 rounds of ammunition and one round was in the chamber. Sampson has a 2009 conviction for misdemeanor infliction of corporal injury upon a spouse or cohabitant.

According to court documents, on November 7, 2011, Rodney Heather was a passenger in a car that was stopped by law enforcement officers. Heather had placed a gun under the seat where he was sitting. The driver was on probation and Heather was on parole at the time. Agents searched the car and found the loaded Llama .45-caliber handgun with one bullet in the chamber. Heather has a felony conviction for carrying a concealed weapon.

Unless otherwise noted, the maximum statutory penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentences, 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.

The charges against Onofre Espinoza-Torres and Vincent Cruz-Maestas are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.