Two men are behind bars and another is being sought as a fugitive following a six-month federal investigation into illegal arms dealing in Norwalk and Bellflower, authorities said Saturday.
David Martinez, 28, of Norwalk and Francisco Jimenez, 22, of Bell Gardens were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of weapon-related charges as a result of a federal indictment earlier in the month, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials said in a written statement.
A third indicted suspect, 27-year-old Gerardo Perez of Bellflower, remained at large, officials said.
“During the course of the investigation, six firearms were purchased, including a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun and a stolen .50-caliber handgun,” ATF officials said in a written statement.
“ATF undercover agents and a confidential informant working on behalf of ATF were able to infiltrate a group of criminals that were selling illegal firearms in Bellflower and Norwalk,” the statement said.
The three defendants are charged with conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license and possession of unregistered firearms, ATF officials said in a written statement.
In addition, authorities said, the three defendants have been charged with possession of unregistered firearms, and Perez is accused of two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
If convicted as charged, Martinez faces up to 40 years in federal prison, while Perez and Jimenez could receive up to 20 years behind bars, officials said.
Anyone with information on Perez’s whereabouts is asked to contact the ATF at 800-283-4867. Calls will be kept confidential.
PHOTO of fugitive Gerardo Perez courtesy of the ATF.