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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 22, 2021

Hanford Man Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for Manufacturing and Distributing Machine Guns

FRESNO, Calif. — Jose Moreno, 26, of Hanford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd to three years and one month in prison for illegally distributing a machine gun, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, on May 22, 2019, Moreno sold a machine gun to an individual in a parking lot in Hanford. Shortly after the meeting, the individual departed in his car and law enforcement officers conducted a traffic stop. During a search of the car, officers found a fully automatic handgun with two 16-round magazines. Moreno’s involvement in this machine gun sale and several others was uncovered during a months-long wiretap investigation into the Nuestra Familia Prison Gang operating in Kings and Tulare Counties. The investigation revealed that Moreno was manufacturing and selling machine guns to street gang members.

Moreno pleaded guilty on Aug. 30, 2021. He and co‑defendant Eric Lopez Mercado, 27, of Lemoore, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 14, 2019. Charges are pending against Mercado. The charges against Mercado are only allegations; he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Kings County Gang Task Force; the California Department of Justice’s Special Operations Unit; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; and the Kings County District Attorney's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin J. Gilio, Katherine E. Schuh, and Kimberly A. Sanchez are prosecuting the case.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime. To learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods, go to www.justice.gov/psn.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated November 22, 2021