Seven Kings County and Tennessee Residents Indicted for Firearms Trafficking Conspiracy
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging seven Tennessee and California residents with various firearms offenses, including conspiracy to traffic in firearms by an unlicensed person, illegal transportation of firearms, and being a felon in possession of firearms, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. None of the defendants is licensed to deal or import firearms.
Rafael Sanchez Jr., 38, of Kettleman City, Califorinia, is charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic in firearms by an unlicensed person, three counts of illegal transportation of firearms and three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Alexis Sanchez, 19, of Kettleman City; and Tennessee residents Juan Daniel Gonzalez-Vazquez, 24; Victor Luna, 23; Ashley Sanchez, 22; and Elvia Sanchez, 40, are all charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic in firearms by an unlicensed person and three counts of illegal transportation of firearms
Veronica Ramirez, 38, of Lemoore, California, was charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic in firearms by an unlicensed person.
According to court documents, between April 2016 and March 2018, Rafael Sanchez conspired to have firearms purchased in Tennessee and shipped to him in California. Rafael Sanchez and Alexis Sanchez then transferred money to the Tennessee co-conspirators. With the assistance of Ramirez, Rafael Sanchez identified California-based purchasers and offered to sell them the firearms he received from Tennessee.
According to the indictment, the Tennessee co-conspirators shipped numerous firearms to California, including .45, .40 and 9 mm caliber handguns, as well as ammunition and firearms accessories, including extended magazines. In November 2017, Rafael Sanchez offered to sell to an associate in California an AR-15-style rifle with two 30-round magazines for $1,000.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Lenoir City Police Department in Tennessee, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee assisted in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher D. Baker is prosecuting the case in the Eastern District of California.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and $250,000 fine for each of the conspiracy and firearms offenses. Rafael Sanchez faces an a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine if convicted of the separate felon in possession of firearms counts. 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 defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.