LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury today charged a San Fernando Valley man with selling a total of nearly 16 pounds of methamphetamine and 89 firearms, including dozens of “ghost guns,” or firearms that lack serial numbers.
Julio Ernesto Lopez-Menendez, 26, a.k.a. “Iroe,” of Reseda, was charged in a 13-count indictment with four counts of distribution of methamphetamine, one count of engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, four counts of possession of unregistered firearms, and four counts of possession of firearms not identified by serial numbers.
Lopez-Menendez’s arraignment is scheduled for May 5 in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles. He has been in federal custody since his April 14 arrest on a criminal complaint in this case.
The indictment returned today details a series of alleged transactions involving Lopez-Menendez from January 6 to April 7, 2022. These transactions typically involved large numbers of firearms and, sometimes, pound quantities of methamphetamine. Some 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, Lopez-Menendez allegedly sold the buyer – who was an undercover operative – a dozen firearms, including 10 semi-automatic “ghost gun” pistols. In a February 10 transaction, Lopez-Menendez allegedly sold the 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 alleged in the indictment, Lopez-Menendez sold the buyer approximately 4.2 kilograms (9.2 pounds) and 2.2 kilograms (4.8 pounds) of methamphetamine on March 8 and March 23, respectively.
In total, Lopez-Menendez sold approximately 7.25 kilograms (15.98 pounds) of methamphetamine and 89 firearms – including 53 ghost guns, the indictment alleges.
Lopez-Menendez does not have a federal firearms license and does not 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, according to court documents.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, Lopez-Menendez would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the for each distribution of methamphetamine charge. He would face statutory maximum sentences of five years in federal prison for the unlicensed firearms business charge, 10 years in federal prison for each possession of an unregistered firearm count, and 10 years in federal prison for each count of possession of a firearm without a serial number.
The FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Los Angeles Police Department investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Chou of the Violent and Organized Crimes Section is prosecuting this case.