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Press Release

Santa Teresa, N.M., Man Pleads Guilty To Unlawfully Possessing Seventy-Two Stolen Firearms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

Firearms Stolen From Four Federal Firearm Licensed Dealers
in El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruces, New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Emilio Sandoval, 21, of Santa Teresa, N.M., entered a guilty plea this afternoon to a felony information charging him with possession of stolen firearms under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The guilty plea was announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and Thomas G. Atteberry, Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Sandoval and co-defendant Cisco Rene Gutierrez, 18, of El Paso, Texas, were charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., on Nov. 8, 2012, that alleged the transportation of stolen firearms from Texas to New Mexico and possession of stolen firearms. Sandoval was arrested on Nov. 14, 2012, in El Paso and transferred to Las Cruces on Nov. 26, 2012, to face the charges in the criminal complaint.

During today’s proceedings, Sandoval pled guilty to a felony information and admitted stealing firearms or aiding and abetting the theft of firearms from four federal firearms licensed (FFL) dealers in El Paso and Las Cruces between May 2012 and Nov. 2012. Specifically, Sandoval admitted his role in burglarizing the following FFLs and stealing an aggregate of 72 firearms:

 Sportsman’s Elite in El Paso on May 7, 2012, where 34 firearms were stolen.
 Stryker’s Shooting World in El Paso on May 19, 2012, where 10 firearms were stolen.
 Country Wide Shooters in El Paso on Sept. 23, 2012, where six firearms were stolen.
 Stryker’s Shooting World in Las Cruces on Nov. 13, 2012, where 22 firearms, including four silencers, were stolen.

Sandoval admitted that the firearms stolen from FFLs in El Paso were transported to New Mexico shortly after they were stolen. He also acknowledged that all 72 firearms traveled in interstate or foreign commerce before they were stolen.

Sandoval has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Sandoval faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Co-defendant Gutierrez was arrested in Las Cruces on Dec. 6, 2012, and is detained pending trial. The criminal complaint against Gutierrez is merely an accusation and he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the El Paso and Las Cruces offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, with assistance from the El Paso Police Department, the Las Cruces Police Department, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office and the Sunland Park Police Department. Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy M. Castellano of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case.

Updated January 26, 2015