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Press Release

Final Defendant and Fugitive in Smash and Grab of Firearms Sentenced to 24 Months’ Imprisonment

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Utah
Approximately 30 firearms stolen from Federal Firearms Licensees

Salt Lake City, Utah – Axel Castillo Hernandez, 20, of West Valley City, Utah, was sentenced yesterday to 24 months’ imprisonment after he admitted to participating in the burglary of two federal firearms licensees where he and his co-conspirator rammed a vehicle through the front doors of Xtreme Pawn and 1st Cash Pawn in 2022 and stole firearms. 

In addition to Hernandez’s term of imprisonment, U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell ordered he serve a term of three years’ supervised release and pay a fine of $250,000.  The sentencing comes nearly a year after Hernandez’s co-defendant, Angel Jovanny Gonzalez-Luna, 21, plead guilty and was sentenced in August 2023. 

According to court documents and statements made at Hernandez’s change of plea hearing in March 2024, Hernandez and his co-defendant, Luna, smashed stolen vehicles through the front of Xtreme Pawn and 1st Cash Pawn in August 2022 and September 2022. As a result, the owners’ vehicles and business owners’ property suffered extensive damage. During the burglaries, Hernandez and Luna stole approximately 30 firearms. According to ATF, one of the stolen firearms was recovered in December 2022 and later forensically linked to a homicide. There is no evidence showing that Hernandez was responsible for, or in any way participated in that homicide; rather, it shows Hernandez and Luna sold or otherwise disposed of the stolen firearms without regard for how they would be used. In October 2023, Hernandez, who was a fugitive for over a year, was arrested, but not without first fleeing from law enforcement by vehicle and on foot. 

United States Attorney Trina A. Higgins made the announcement. 

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

An Assistant United States Attorney from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah prosecuted the case. 

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 gun violence and other violent crime, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  On May 26, 2021, the Department 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.  For more information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, please visit


Felicia Martinez
Public Affairs Specialist
(801) 325-3237
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Updated July 10, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 24-79