Fresno, California - On Monday, Vonshay Robinson, 31, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic firearms, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, between November 2015 and October 2016, Robinson illegally purchased and sold firearms to others, including a .22 caliber gun he sold to an undercover agent on March 25, 2016, for $1,000.
Another defendant in a related case, Jesus Roberto Velazquez Juarez, 25, also pleaded guilty on Monday to money laundering. According to court documents, Velazquez Juarez sold firearms and methamphetamine to others, including a 9mm automatic blank pistol modified to fire live ammunition and approximately 3 grams of methamphetamine to the same customer in October 2016.
Robinson and Velazquez Juarez were arrested on November 3, 2016, along with 18 other defendants following a year-long multi-agency investigation that targeted criminal street gangs in Fresno. Other defendants also have pleaded guilty to various firearms and drug offenses, including:
Devone Johnson, 32, and Anthony Thomas, 26, pleaded guilty on August 13, 2018, to unlawfully possessing a firearms. They are scheduled to be sentenced on October 29, 2018.
Garry Sampson, 40, pleaded guilty on August 1, 2018, to unlawfully possessing a firearm. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 22, 2018.
Raymond Jones, 61, pleaded guilty on August 6, 2018, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 5, 2018.
Danny Valenzuela, 51, pleaded guilty on July 30, 2018, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 5, 2018.
Stephen Hill, 28, pleaded guilty on September 25, 2017, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. On December 18, 2017, Hill was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.
Rashad Halford, 31, pleaded guilty on September 25, 2017, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. On March 12, 2018, Halford was sentenced to two years and two months in prison.
These cases are the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation Special Operations Unit, the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), the Fresno Police Department, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit (SOU). The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the Clovis Police Department, Fresno County Probation, and the California Highway Patrol assisted in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly A. Sanchez and Christopher D. Baker are prosecuting the cases.
Robinson and Velazquez Juarez are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on January 7, 2019, and January 22, 2019, respectively. Robinson faces a maximum statutory penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Velazquez Juarez faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The actual sentences, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) was involved in the investigation of many of these cases. The OCDETF program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.
These cases are part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.