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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2007 Press Release Index
    Release No. 07-042

    March 22, 2007

    TWO LINKED TO COMPTON GUN STORE ARRESTED ON
    FEDERAL CHARGES OF KNOWINGLY SELLING AMMO TO FELONS

    LOS ANGELES, CA - Two Southern California men were arrested this morning on a federal criminal complaint that alleges they sold firearms and ammunition to straw buyers who were purchasing the weapons on behalf of convicted felons and other prohibited persons.

    Stephen Patrick Virgilio, 36, of Huntington Beach, and Carlos Rodriguez Castellanos, 52, of Downey, were arrested without incident at their respective residences. In addition to the arrests, authorities executed federal search and seizure warrants at Boulevard Sales & Service in Compton, where Virgilio and Castellanos worked, and another Boulevard Sales store located in American Hay and Mercantile in Oak View. At the stores, hundreds of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition were seized.

    According to an affidavit filed in this case, during a five-year period, 897 firearms linked to a crime or illegally possessed were traced back to Boulevard Sales & Service. Of these traced guns, at least 29 were connected to murder investigations.

    The search and arrest warrants stem from an undercover investigation into Boulevard Sales’ illegal sales of firearms and ammunition to known felons and prohibited persons. According to the affidavit, confidential informants with prior felony convictions, and undercover law enforcement officers posing as straw buyers for these informants, were able to purchase 14 firearms from Boulevard Sales & Service. Those weapons included handguns, a shotgun and several rifles.

    According to the affidavit, Virgilio and Castellanos both willingly sold firearms and ammunition through the straw buyers to the informants, despite being told that the informants were convicted felons barred by law from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition.

    Virgilio and Castellanos are each charged in a criminal complaint filed late yesterday with one count of sale of ammunition to a felon, a charge that a carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison. The two defendants are expected to make their first court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
    An criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

    The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Backhus (213-894-4267) and Special Assistant United States Attorney Shawn Nelson (213-894-5339). The criminal case is part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, in which federal and local prosecutors work together with law enforcement authorities to combat gun violence. AUSA Backhus is the Project Safe Neighborhoods Coordinator for the seven-county Central District of California. SAUSA Nelson is a senior Deputy City Attorney with the Gang Unit at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, who has been assigned to work with federal authorities to prosecute gun offenses as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods.

    Participating in today’s arrests and execution of search warrants were the Los Angeles Police Department, the Long Beach Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the California Department of Justice Firearms Bureau, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, the Downey Police Department and the Huntington Beach Police Department.

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    Release No. 07-042
    Return to the 2007 Press Release Index