Three former marines suspected of selling assault weapons to members of L.A.'s notorious Florencia 13 gang have been arrested in Southern California, federal officials announced Tuesday.
The arrests by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) included five suspects in total who were believed to be involved in the sale of weapons to San Fernando Valley members of the South L.A.-born gang.
It took authorities 12 months to get to the bottom of the alleged gun-sales ring.
Suspects include Adam Andrew Gitschlag, 28, of San Clemente, Jose Smith Pacheco, 31, of Montebello, and Miguel A. Ortiz, 49, of Northridge — all former Marines. Also arrested: Edwin Cano, 33, of Northridge, and Christopher John Thomas, 32, of Van Nuys.
They were charged with five counts each of possessing illegal assault weapons that included four AK-47s and one AR-15, ATF officials stated. Cano, a felon, is in deeper s— because it would be doubly illegal for him to have a firearm.
Thomas, Ortiz and Pacheco pleaded not guilty and were due back in court Nov. 18. They were locked up in lieu of $95,000 bail each. Gitschlag and Cano made bail.
According to the ATF's statement:
The five defendants allegedly sold $6,000 worth of illegal weapons on June 23 to a person they thought was connected to Florencia 13 street gang. The sale allegedly occurred on U.S. Postal Service property after Ortiz, who works for the Post Office, opened the gate to a secured parking lot to the other defendants.
Authorities said the charges could amount to 20 years for each suspect if they're convicted.
Did the guns ever belong to the U.S. military? Not sure. The AR-15 is one that's used by American combat troops. The AKs are foreign issue.