After allegedly selling dozens of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition to men they believed to be connected to the Mexican drug cartel, two active members of the U.S. Army National Guard were arrested for their illegal actions.
According to NBC San Diego, Jaime Casillas and Andrew Reyes were purportedly caught after an eight month sting operation run by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal complaint said. The two men were arrested in San Diego on Wednesday, when an undercover sting operation caught them selling the weaponry.
It has been reported that the men were stationed at the Army National Guard Armory in La Mesa, California. However, the National Guard has not commented on the incident.
The investigation was initiated when an undercover agent with the DEA had a meeting with Casillas to discuss the sale and purchase of weapons and ammunition. Casillas believed the agent to be an operative of a Mexican drug-trafficking organization. The agent informed Reyes and Casillas that the weapons would be sent to Mexico and end up in the hands of cartel fighters.
Over the course of seven different transactions occurring between August and April, the complaint said the men sold thousands of rounds of ammunition to men they believed would give the products to Mexican drug cartels. During one transaction, they collected $2,150 from the agent for an AR-15 rifle and even allegedly wore their official U.S. Army uniforms.
NBC San Diego reported that some of the items were issued by the military, while others were purchased in Texas and then re-sold. Some of those weapons, the men allegedly told the undercover agents, were “hot,” meaning they had been used in a crime or were stolen. Reyes also told an agent that the so-called SAPI plates and ammunition magazines were from military inventory.
Overall, the U.S. government has accused Casillas and Reyes of selling six rifles, one handgun, thousands of rounds of ammunition, magazines and several body armor plates that can be placed inside vests and resist high-velocity ammunition for thousands of dollars.
Casillas was arrested during a traffic stop and Reyes at his home. According to the federal complaint, Casillas made some admissions to arresting authorities even after he was advised of his right to remain silent.
The men will appear in Federal Court Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell Dembin for an arraignment. They face possible unlicensed firearms dealing charges and charges for unlawfully transporting firearms bought out of state.