THREE INDICTED FOR ILLEGAL ARMS SALES TO BOLIVIA
Fourth Man Charged as Felon in Possession of Firearm
Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), and James K. Loftus, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (“MDPD”), announced the April 1, 2010 indictment of Moises Vargas Rojas, 22, of Miami, Frank Roman Goycochea, 20, of Miami, and Alfredo Asbun, 51, of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in connection with their participation in an alleged conspiracy to illegally export arms to Bolivia. In addition, defendant Alfredo Rodriguez, 55, of Miami, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The defendants were previously arrested and charged by complaint. Vargas, Roman, and Asbun were arraigned this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrea M. Simonton. Rodriguez will be arraigned Tuesday, April 6, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Brown.
According to the indictment, from September 2009 through March 18, 2010, defendants Vargas and Roman purchased hundreds of firearms at gun shops in South Florida for resale in Bolivia. Vargas and Roman would either sell the firearms to defendant Asbun in Miami, who would ship the arms to Bolivia, or would ship the arms by common carrier to an individual in Bolivia. According to the indictment, at no time did any of the defendants tell the shippers that the boxes contained firearms. Instead, the defendants falsely told the shippers that the boxes contained automobile parts. Moreover, neither the defendants nor the Bolivian recipients of the firearms were licensed to deal in firearms.
U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman stated, “Although there is no terrorist connection in this instance, we cannot underestimate the potential danger that illegal arms trafficking poses to our national security. Illegal firearms can easily fall into the wrong hands. For this reason, we will continue to aggressively prosecute arms smugglers.”
“Stopping the illegal flow of firearms continues to be one of our top priorities,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Hugo Barrera. “This multi-agency investigation, the seizure of these deadly firearms and the arrest of these gun traffickers is just another example of how we do that.”
Director James Loftus of the Miami-Dade Police Department stated, “The issue of gun violence extends beyond the borders of Miami-Dade County. We stand committed to working with our state and federal partners in this ongoing effort.”
According to the indictment and affidavits filed in support of the previous criminal complaints, defendants Vargas and Roman purchased the firearms, and completed the required ATF Forms 4473. In these forms, the defendants falsely claimed that they were the ultimate owners of the firearms. In fact, however, the defendants knew that the firearms would be resold to Asbun or shipped to others in Bolivia, where they would be resold at a higher price. In this way, from September 24, 2009 through March 18, 2010, defendants Vargas and Roman allegedly purchased 372 firearms from Miami Police Supply, a licensed gun dealer in Miami-Dade County, completing corresponding false ATF Forms 4473 for each of these purchases.
More specifically, on March 18, 2010, ATF agents observed defendants Vargas and Roman deliver several boxes to Knez Trading, a freight forwarding company. The defendants told the shipper that the boxes contained automobile parts for shipment to Bolivia. In fact, however, the boxes contained 39 firearms, including twenty-three (23) assault rifles.
According to the criminal complaint affidavit, on March 18, 2010, ATF agents and MDPD detectives followed Vargas and Roman to a residence in Miami. While at the residence, agents observed a Chevrolet Trailblazer pull into the front yard of the home. Defendant Alfredo Rodriguez, the owner of the Trailblazer, and defendant Asbun got out of the Trailblazer and entered the home. A short while later, all four defendants (Vargas, Roman, Rodriguez and Asbun) left the home carrying firearm cases, which they began to load into the trunk of Rodriguez’s Trailblazer.
According to the criminal complaint affidavit, agents then approached the defendants and ordered them to put down their weapons. A subsequent search of the Trailblazer led to the seizure of four (4) Olympic Arms .223 caliber assault rifles and approximately 3,200 rounds of ammunition. A subsequent search of Vargas’ home resulted in the seizure of15 firearms, including 10 assault rifles. A search of Rodriguez’s home resulted in the seizure of another 84 firearms.
The 16-count indictment charges defendants Vargas, Roman, and Asbun with one count of conspiring to deal in firearms without a license and to deliver guns to a common carrier for shipment to Bolivia, without providing notice to the shipper that the shipment contained firearms (Count 1). These three defendants are also charged with one substantive count of dealing in firearms without a license (Count 2), and various counts of making or aiding and abetting the making of false statements in ATF Forms 4473 (Counts 3-13). Defendants Vargas and Roman are charged with delivering arms to a common carrier for shipment to Bolivia, without written notice to the carrier that the shipment contained firearms (Count 14). Defendant Asbun is charged with illegal possession of firearms by a non-resident alien (Count 15), and defendant Rodriguez is charged with illegal possession of firearms by a convicted felon (Count 16). In addition, the indictment seeks the forfeiture of the firearms, ammunition, and $4,000 cash seized during this investigation. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of 5 years in prison on Counts 1-14, and 10 years in prison on Counts 15-16.
Today’s indictment is the culmination of a two-week investigation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Miami Dade Police Department. In addition, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman also thanked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their assistance in this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roy Altman.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.