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Press Release

Man Sentenced for Unlawfully Possessing a Semiautomatic Firearm

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. – Esteban Gonzalez-Melendez, 26, of Mexico, was sentenced last week by United States District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Gonzalez-Melendez also was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment. Gonzalez-Melendez pleaded guilty to Possession of Firearms and Ammunition knowing that he was an undocumented non-citizen illegally and unlawfully in the United States.

On September 9, 2022, Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in which Gonzalez-Melendez was a passenger. One of the officers observed the muzzle of a rifle on the passenger floorboard protruding from under a blanket covering Gonzalez-Melendez. A search of the vehicle revealed a semiautomatic AR-15 pistol with large capacity magazine capabilities, along with a 9mm pistol and .380 pistol where Gonzalez-Melendez was seated. The search further revealed a two-way radio, a 30-round AR-15 magazine, a 100-round AR-15 drum magazine, two .380 magazines, a 9mm magazine, 12 rounds of 9mm ammunition, 14 rounds of .380 ammunition, 92 rounds of 5.56x45 NATO ammunition, and a pair of handcuffs.

United States Border Patrol agents, who were called by DPS, determined that Gonzalez-Melendez was illegally present in the United States. Gonzalez-Melendez stated he knew it was illegal for him to possess a firearm and indicated he had purchased two of the weapons in Phoenix, and a friend gave him the third gun “to hold.”

Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection’s United States Border Patrol conducted the investigation in this case. Assistant United States Attorney Brandon Bolling, United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.

CASE NUMBER:        22-cr-02127 -TUC-JGZ (EJM)
RELEASE NUMBER: 2023-063_Gonzalez-Melendez

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Public Affairs
Diana L. Varela
(602) 514-7743

Updated April 27, 2023

Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 2023-063_Gonzalez-Melendez