The indictment shows between 2006 and 2009, over 400 22-caliber rifles were bought at Pete's Sporting Goods in Madera, then shipped to Mexico.
Federal agents say the suspects also lied about their intentions for the weapons. U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner says there was no wrongdoing on the part of the store owners. "There were a large number of purchases at that store in Madera. There were over 2 dozen purchases by multiple defendants of multiple weapons."
These are the seven suspects charged: Ernesto Salgado-Guzman, Demetrio Sebastian Cortez-Ordaz, Zeferina Salgado Guzman de Cortez, Modesto Santiago-Sanchez, Victorino Epifanio Bazante Pacheco, and Florencio Morales-Solano.
All are legal residents. All appeared in federal court today. Wagner says federal agents from the ATF and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are working with Mexican authorities in locating five others. "People who may not themselves be cartel members or involved in violence or who are purchasing firearms and passing on to others knowing it will go to Mexico, those people should realize they can and will be prosecuted."
Investigators were tipped off to the firearms trafficking following the arrest of Gregorio Salgado-Lopez. He was arrested in Mexico in 2009 and was found in possession of 50 22-caliber rifles. After posting bail, he went back to Madera, and was later arrested on an international warrant. Wagner says Mexican authorities want him extradited. "We all know there is a tremendous amount of narcotics related violence in Mexico and that a high percentage of the firearms that are recovered at crime scenes are traced back to the United States."
Authorities say there's enough violence in Mexico as it is. They're hoping the bust of this gun trafficking ring will help curtail it.