Alleged Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Dealing Firearms
BOSTON – An alleged member of the Latin Gangsta’ Disciples gang pleaded guilty yesterday to federal firearms trafficking.
Eric Valentin, a/k/a “Jefe,” 22, of Nashua, N.H., pleaded guilty to dealing firearms without a license and conspiracy to deal firearms without a license. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel scheduled sentencing for June 20, 2018. In February 2018, Valentin was charged along with co-defendants Jose Ilarraza, a/k/a “Kae-Kae,” 26, of Newburyport, and Bryan Torres-Almanzar, a/k/a “Flex,” 19, also of Nashua, N.H.
According to court documents, in September 2017, Ilarazza approached an individual, who was working as a cooperating witness for federal investigators, after Ilarazza learned that the cooperator was interested in obtaining firearms from the Dominican Republic. Ilarraza, who was incarcerated at the time at the Essex County Jail following a conviction for breaking and entering and resisting arrest, instructed the cooperating witness to contact Torres-Almanzar, who was allegedly heavily involved in firearms trafficking.
Federal investigators used this information and worked with another cooperating witness to purchase firearms from Torres-Almanzar and his “partner,” Valentin, on six occasions between Sept. 12, 2017, and Oct. 19, 2017. For example, on Sept. 14, 2017, the cooperating witness arranged to purchase a 9mm semiautomatic pistol with a laser sight and an extended magazine for $1,000 from Torres-Almanzar and Valentin. During the sale, Torres-Almanzar and Valentin talked about future gun purchases and told the cooperating witness that “we do business and will take care of you.” They also said that they were in the business of “growing our organization” and that it was a “good thing that he [Ilarraza] introduced us.” During the course of the investigation, the cooperating witness purchased 11 firearms and 200 rounds of ammunition from Torres-Almanzar and Valentin.
Torres-Almanzar pleaded guilty on March 23, 2018, and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19, 2018. Ilarraza has pleaded not guilty.
The charges of dealing in firearms without a license and conspiracy each provide for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Mickey D. Leadingham, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Field Division; Lawrence Police Chief Roy P. Vasque; Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett; Lowell Police Chief William Taylor; and Nashua (N.H.) Police Chief Andrew J. Lavoie made the announcement today.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.