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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Modesto Man Indicted for Methamphetamine Trafficking and Firearm Offense

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Jason Allen Celes, 37, of Modesto, charging him with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, Celes was arrested in Modesto in possession of methamphetamine packaged for sale and a loaded firearm with an “auto-sear” device attached to it. Auto-sear devices are used to convert semi-automatic firearms to fire as fully automatic machine guns. Celes is a convicted felon prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Department of Corrections, and the Modesto Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Katherine E. Schuh is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Celes faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a fine up to $5 million. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see www.justice.gov/projectguardian.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated March 5, 2020