The men allegedly drove from the Central California city twice in August, broke into stores in Corona and Torrance, and returned home to sell the weapons, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Indicted Thursday on charges of conspiring to steal firearms from a federal licensee and possession of stolen firearms were Joseph "Wheezo" Vasquez, 24; Eric Moore, 35; and Jose "Fuzzy" Arellano, 26. Moore and Arellano also were charged with being felons in possession of firearms.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Moore and Arellano drove from Fresno to Riverside County on Aug. 14, broke into the Corona store at 2264 Griffin Way, stole about 12 rifles and drove home.
A spokesman at the time said several burglars wearing long sleeves and baseball caps broke open a security door to gain entry. Police released photographs to the media at the time in the hope they could be identified.
Authorities said Moore, Arellano and Vasquez drove home and began to sell the guns.
Moore and Arellano allegedly returned to Southern California 14 days later and broke into the Turner's store at 18305 Hawthorne Blvd. in Torrance.
Police responded to an alarm at 3:45 a.m. and discovered that thieves had pried open a rear door to gain entry.
They took about 42 guns, drove back
Law enforcement officers served multiple search warrants on Sept. 25 related to the case, seizing three rifles, about $10,000 in cash and recovering photos of people holding firearms.
Authorities identified the stolen guns as an Armalite .223-caliber rifle, two Bushmaster Firearms .223-caliber rifles, three Colt .223-caliber rifles, four Del-Ton Inc. 556-caliber rifles, a DPMS Inc. 308-caliber rifle, a DPMS Inc. 556-caliber rifle, three DPMS Inc. .223-caliber rifles, a Hi-Point .40-caliber rifle, a Hi-Point .45-caliber rifle, a Hi-Point 9 mm rifle, two HS Products .40-caliber pistols, two HS Products .45-caliber pistols, four HS Products 9 mm pistols, a JP Enterprises Inc. .223-caliber rifle, a Lewis Machine and Tool Co. .556-caliber rifle, a Masterpiece Arms 9 mm rifle, a Palmetto State Armory .556-caliber rifle, two PTR-91 .308-caliber rifles, a Romarm .762-caliber rifle, two Sig Sauer .45-caliber pistols, four Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistols, two Smith and Wesson .556-caliber rifles, two Smith and Wesson 9 mm pistols, three Smith and Wesson .357-caliber revolvers, three Smith and Wesson .38-caliber revolvers, three Smith and Wesson .44-caliber revolvers, a Smith and Wesson .223-caliber rifle, and a Smith and Wesson .22-caliber revolver.
The investigation involved agents and officers from the Torrance, Corona, Fresno and Gilroy police departments, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Fresno County Sheriff's Department, the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
"The success of this investigation was made possible due to the relentless and solid police work by numerous investigators from several organizations," Torrance police Sgt. Robert Watt said.
The maximum penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of stolen firearms is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for conspiracy is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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