Two National Guard members pleaded guilty in a San Diego federal court on January 14 to illegally selling guns they believed were destined for Mexico—and thus likely the hands of violent drug cartels.
According to KPBS, Jaime Casillas and Andrew Reyes, both of whom worked at an Army National Guard armory in El Cajon, California, each pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell Dembin to one count of dealing firearms without a license. The pair had originally been charged in April 2015.
Reyes also entered guilty pleas to three counts of unlicensed transportation of firearms, admitting that he traveled to Texas on at least three occasions to buy high-powered guns that he then illegally brought back to California and sold to an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Reyes conceded to selling an AK-47 rifle in early September of 2014, two AR-15 rifles and four high-capacity .223-caliber rifles magazines three months later, and another AR-15 rifle last March. According to his plea agreement, Casillas sold a .40-caliber pistol to the plainclothes agent in August of 2014 and an AR-15 rifle two months later.
Reyes and Casillas engaged in a practice known as straw purchasing. This occurs when a gun buyer indicates on the purchasing paperwork that he is buying the firearms for personal use while fully planning to either give or sell those guns to someone else. But even more disturbing is the fact some of the weapons being sold by Reyes and Casillas were issued to them by the U.S. military, according to prosecutors. The men even showed up in uniform to one transaction.
The ATF undercover agent repeatedly told Reyes and Casillas that the guns he was buying from them would be headed to Mexico, according to the complaint. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego indicated the defendants also were aware that some of the firearms acquired in Texas had obliterated serial numbers or were “hot,” meaning they had been used in a crime or were stolen.
Sentencing hearings for Reyes and Casillas are scheduled for April 15, 2016.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.