LOS ANGELES – A San Fernando Valley man pleaded guilty today to federal charges for selling a total of approximately 17 pounds of methamphetamine and 89 firearms, including dozens of “ghost guns,” or firearms that lack serial numbers.
Julio Ernesto Lopez-Menendez, 27, a.k.a. “Iroe,” of Reseda, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of methamphetamine and one count of engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license.
Lopez-Menendez has been in federal custody since his arrest in this case in April 2022.
According to his plea agreement, from January 2022 to April 2022, Lopez-Menendez engaged in transactions in which large numbers of firearms and pound quantities of methamphetamine were sold. Many of the firearms sold were so-called “ghost guns,” named because of their lack of a serial number.
Ghost guns are often assembled from parts purchased separately or in a kit. Because the separate parts do not bear serial numbers, the assembled ghost guns do not bear serial numbers, and they cannot be registered or traced.
In one deal on January 20, 2022, Lopez-Menendez sold the buyer a dozen firearms, including 10 semi-automatic “ghost gun” pistols. In a February 10 transaction, Lopez-Menendez sold the same buyer nearly one pound of methamphetamine and 14 firearms, including nine semi-automatic ghost gun pistols, for $15,000.
During the final two drug deals, Lopez-Menendez sold the buyer approximately 4.2 kilograms (9.2 pounds) and 2.2 kilograms (4.8 pounds) of methamphetamine on March 8, 2022, and March 23, 2022, respectively.
In total, Lopez-Menendez admitted to selling approximately 17 pounds of methamphetamine and 89 firearms – including 53 ghost guns.
At no time did Lopez-Menendez have a federal firearms license, nor did he have any firearms registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, the central registry for all items regulated under the National Firearms Act.
United States District Judge André Birotte Jr. scheduled a May 26 sentencing hearing, at which time Lopez-Menendez will face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison.
The FBI investigated this case as part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Chou of the Violent and Organized Crimes Section is prosecuting this case.