Brothers Plead Guilty to Unlawful Gun Trafficking
Las Vegas, Nev. – Two brothers have pleaded guilty to conspiring to deal in firearms without a license and unlawfully transporting the firearms from Nevada to Mexico, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Jonnatan Weiss, 29, currently in federal custody, but most recently a resident of Tijuana, Mexico, and Chula Vista, California, and his brother, William Weiss, 37, of Hesperia, California, each pleaded guilty on Tuesday, November 24, 2009, to one count of conspiracy to receive, transport and deal in firearms, and to transport firearms into state of residency. The maximum penalty that each defendant faces is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The defendants were arrested in June and indicted by a federal grand jury in July.
"If you fraudulently purchase guns in Nevada and transport them to another state or country for re-sale, you are in violation of federal law and will be prosecuted," said U.S. Attorney Bogden.
According to the court pleadings, on December 5, 2008, Jonnatan Weiss, then residing in Tijuana, Mexico, fraudulently obtained a Nevada identification card under the pretense that he resided at an address in North Las Vegas. Later that same day, Weiss attempted to purchase a .45 caliber pistol from a licensed firearms dealer in Las Vegas, but was disapproved after government authorities found out that he made false statements on the gun purchase paperwork about his criminal history.
On December 13, 2008, Jonnatan's brother, William Weiss, fraudulently obtained a Nevada driver's license using a North Las Vegas address, when in fact, he was a resident of California. Over the next six months, Jonnatan and William Weiss, and other conspirators, traveled from Mexico and California to Nevada for purposes of obtaining and purchasing firearms to resell to others. William Weiss served as the straw-purchaser of the firearms and the conspirators used his fraudulently obtained Nevada driver's license to circumvent restrictions on the sale of firearms to nonresidents. During this time, the conspirators received, and attempted to acquire, multiple firearms and firearm components in Nevada, specifically at least 19 pistols and three rifles, including one .50 caliber rifle. Many of the firearms were civilian versions or replicas of tactical or military firearms. The conspirators transported the firearms to California, and as part of the conspiracy, the firearms were thereafter transported to Mexico for resale to others. Neither Jonnatan or William Weiss were licensed dealers of firearms pursuant to federal law.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) opened an investigation in the matter in February 2009, after a local gun store employee reported that William Weiss was purchasing several firearms, including an assault rifle, for cash and was driving a vehicle with a California license plate.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on March 16, 2009.
The case was investigated by ATF and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Drew Smith and Timothy S. Vasquez.