News

Dozens arrested in large sweep for illegal guns, drugs

Local men face multiple federal charges; crackdown was years in the planning

Federal and state law-enforcement agents cracked down on illegal guns and drugs in northern California this week, arresting and charging more than two dozen people, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced today, Nov. 15.

More than a dozen agencies took part in the sweep, making arrests all over the Bay Area, including in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Redwood City, U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson and Rayfield Roundtree, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) San Francisco Field Division, said in a press release.

Detectives seized more than 130 firearms, 39 pounds of methamphetamine and about 20 pounds of marijuana during the operation, which took place in 11 cities. The arrests came the same week that Attorney General William Barr announced Project Guardian, a new gun-violence and federal-arms-laws-enforcement initiative across the country.

The ATF spearheaded the investigation.

"Guns and drugs are a dangerous combination," Anderson said in Friday's statement regarding the arrests. "Public safety demands the kind of law enforcement cooperation we see in this enforcement action."

Roundtree said this week's operation was years in the making.

"Years ago, ATF and the San Mateo County Gang Intelligence Unit began laying the foundation for the culmination you see here today. We believe that one firearm in the hand of a criminal or prohibited person is one firearm too many," he said in the statement.

The defendants have been charged with state and federal crimes. San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said nine people will be prosecuted on state charges. A summary will be issued separately by his office.

The U.S. Attorney's Office released the names of 15 people charged with federal crimes, but a list of defendants facing state crimes has not immediately been released.

The federal defendants and charges are:

• Francisco Nunez-Nepita, 21, East Palo Alto:

Conspiracy to deal firearms without a license; dealing in firearms without a license and aiding and abetting; possession of a machine gun and aiding and abetting. Maximum sentence: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine (counts 1 and 2); 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine (count 3).

• Erizondo Mora-Tapia, 25, East Palo Alto:

Conspiracy to deal firearms without a license; dealing firearms without a license and aiding and abetting. Maximum sentence: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, per count.

• William Alexis-Villa, 22, Menlo Park:

Conspiracy to deal firearms without a license; dealing firearms without a license and aiding and abetting; possession of a machine gun and aiding and abetting; possession of an unregistered firearm (two counts). Maximum sentence: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine (counts 1 and 2); 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine (count 3); 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, (count 4), per count.

• Jose Buenrostro, 30, Redwood City:

Conspiring to deal firearms without a license and dealing firearms without a license; felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition; conspiring to distribute or possess with intent to distribute, and distributing or possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine. Maximum sentence: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine,( count 1); 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine (count 2); 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine (count 3).

• Jonathan Robert Figueroa, 25, Redwood City:

Conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, in violation; dealing firearms without a license and aiding and abetting. Maximum sentence: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, per count.

• Noe Robledo-Lopez, Jr., 19, Redwood City:

Possession of an unregistered firearm. Maximum sentence: 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

• Mario Carlos, 24, Cottonwood:

Felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition. Maximum sentence: 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

• Erik Acevedo-Cruz, 19, Fremont:

Conspiracy to deal firearms without a license; dealing firearms without a license and aiding and abetting; possession of an unregistered firearm. Maximum sentence: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine (counts 1 and 2); 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine (count 3).

• Vladimir Magallan- Gallegos, 26, Modesto:

Possession with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine. Maximum sentence: 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.

• Daniel Zaragoza, 32, Oakland:

Felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition. Maximum sentence: 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

• Cristian Rafael Morales, 23, San Mateo:

Distribution of methamphetamine. Maximum sentence: 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

• Jonathan Flores, 20, San Mateo:

Two counts of distribution of 50 grams and more of methamphetamine. Maximum sentence: 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine, per count.

• Francisco Garibay, 21, South San Francisco:

Two counts of distribution of 50 grams and more of methamphetamine. Maximum sentence: 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine, per count.

• Jesus Antonio Tapia, 19, Sunnyvale:

Conspiracy to deal firearms without a license; dealing firearms without a license and aiding and abetting; possession of an unregistered firearm. Maximum sentence: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the first two counts and 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the possession count.

• Hernan Padilla-Landa, 25, Tracy:

Conspiracy to deal firearms without a license; dealing firearms without a license and aiding and abetting; possession of a firearm with a removed serial number. Maximum sentence: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the first two counts; 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for count 3.

ATF coordinated operations with the U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, California Department of Corrections; California Highway Patrol; and the police departments of Redwood City, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Daly City. East Palo Alto police officers were also on site during arrests in their city.

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Comments

15 people like this
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Nov 18, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Hmmmm. So all offenders are of hispanic background?!? That almost seems... unbelievable... And marijuana and meth? Where are the heroin, cocaine & opiate dealers? Something doesn't smell right here. Anti-immigrant action in sheep's clothing, perhaps?


167 people like this
Posted by Chuck Bernstein
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 19, 2019 at 11:30 am

Skeptical:

Sheep's clothing? Machine guns, felon with a firearm, dealing firearms, possession of unregistered firearm, possession of firearm with removed serial number, 50+ grams of meth--these are not broken tail lights.

We should applaud legal raids that result in the removal of dangerous people with dangerous weapons. Everyone--residents and migrants alike--are safer as a result of these types of actions. Hispanic criminals prey on Hispanic victims, just as Hmong criminals prey on Hmong victims, and so forth. I am not a Trump supporter, but some of his facts are partially right--there is gang activity in some Latin American and Asian migrant communities. We should want to protect everyone, which means that sometimes people with the same ethnicity as the community they are victimizing will be arrested.

Be skeptical, but then thank those who have helped protect us from things that we do no want in our communities, like machine guns.

--Chuck Bernstein, 444 Oak Court, Menlo Park


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 19, 2019 at 4:02 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

With fines like that, they might pay for their prison hospitality. Let's make room for them by releasing those convicted of victimless crimes.


72 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2019 at 4:11 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Chuck Bernstein:

Thank you for your intelligent response. I agree.

pearl


206 people like this
Posted by laughing
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 19, 2019 at 5:29 pm

Victimless crimes??? I am assuming you are referring to drug dealers imprisoned SO unfairly. Tell that to the familys of the hopelessly addicted and those who died from overdoses...SMH

Great job taking these violent criminals off the streets. Lock em up!


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 20, 2019 at 7:41 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

laughing: Wow! You got 55 of your classmates to like you. What a leader!


151 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2019 at 10:24 am

pearl is a registered user.

And, Jack Hickey, NONE of your classmates like you! What a leader! :)


12 people like this
Posted by leading leaders
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 21, 2019 at 10:29 am

Well, Jack at least tried. He ran for governor, senator, congress, just about every office he could find until he found one he could sit in for a couple decades.

A leader!

:)


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