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Press Release

Three Men Indicted for Firearms Trafficking Conspiracy as Part of “Operation Gridlock”

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment today against three men, Wendell Moton, 33, of Fresno, Donnie Hicks, 33, of Visalia, and McCael Marshall, 34, of Visalia, charging them with conspiracy to commit firearms trafficking and possession of a firearm by a felon, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Moton, Hicks, and Marshall arranged to sell a machine gun to an undercover agent via the internet, and then were stopped by investigators on the way to the sale. Moton additionally was found with an additional firearm when he fled from police on another date.

This case is a product of “Operation Gridlock,” a long-term investigation into a network of violent criminal street gangs by Homeland Security Investigations, the Fresno Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Department of Justice, the California Highway Patrol, the Fresno Sheriff’s Office, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, and the Fresno Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Veneman-Hughes is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 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.

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. For more information about OCDETF, please visit

This case is being prosecuted under the new criminal provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Congress enacted, and the President signed in June 2022. The Act is the first federal statute specifically designed to target the unlawful trafficking and straw-purchasing of firearms.

Updated June 6, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses