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Man Pleads Guilty to Using Straw Buyers to Purchase over $100,000 Worth of Firearms in Las Vegas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2009

Las Vegas, Nev. – A man has pleaded guilty to using straw buyers to purchase at least 28 rifles and handguns in Las Vegas, knowing that the firearms were going to be transported to Mexico for criminal activity, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Claudio Caesar Penunuri, aka "Zorra," aka "Arturo Cardenas," 34, pleaded guilty on Friday, October 23, 2009, before U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan to Dealing in Firearms Without a License. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 25, 2010, at 11:00 a.m. and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the guilty plea memorandum, from about July 25 to December 23, 2008, Penunuri paid J.V. to purchase over $100,000 in firearms from licensed dealers in Las Vegas. J.V. purchased the firearms in his name, and in the names of others, and transported them to Penunuri in California. Penunuri also traveled to Las Vegas to pick up some of the firearms. Penunuri then sold the firearms to another individual from Sinaloa, Mexico, knowing that the guns were being transported to Mexico. Penunuri admitted that he bought, sold, and disposed of the firearms with a profit motive and for criminal purposes. The plea memorandum lists 28 firearms that were purchased in Las Vegas by J.V. on behalf of the defendant. Twenty-five of the firearms were rifles, including four high-powered, .50 caliber rifles, and the rest were 5.7 caliber pistols. It is estimated that the firearms were worth over $100,000.

Before his arrest in February, Penunuri was residing in Anaheim, California. He is originally from Mexico and is in the United States unlawfully.

Another individual who obtained several firearms in Las Vegas for Penunuri, Uvaldo Salazar-Lopez, pleaded guilty to Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and was sentenced on June 30, 2009, to time served.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas D. Dickinson.

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