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February 8, 2021Santa Ana, CA, United StatesFirearms, Ammunition and Explosives

Orange County man sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for brokering illegal sales of 'ghost guns,' other firearms

SANTA ANA, Calif. – An Orange County man was sentenced today to 120 months in federal prison for selling narcotics and illegally brokering the sale of firearms – including several “ghost guns” – following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Costa Mesa Police Dept.

Pedro Javier Villalobos, 24, of Santa Ana, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter. Villalobos pleaded guilty in October 2020 to one count of distributing methamphetamine and one count of engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license.

In the summer of 2019, Villalobos, who was not a federally licensed firearms dealer, brokered the sale of firearms to a customer, who was in fact an undercover agent. From Aug. 21, 2019 to Sept. 18, 2019, Villalobos brokered the sale of 15 firearms, including three AR-type rifles and several Glock-type .40-caliber pistols bearing no serial numbers. Villalobos also facilitated the sale of two Mossberg 12-gauge shotguns to the buyer.

Villalobos also sold a total of 367.8 grams of methamphetamine to a buyer on three occasions in Aug. and Sept. of 2019.

Villalobos was the lead defendant in an 11-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed in Oct. 2019 that charged seven defendants with federal firearms offenses.

So far, five guilty pleas have been secured in this case.  Frank Nerida, 50, of Garden Grove, California, was sentenced on Jan. 25 to two years in federal prison. Jury trials are scheduled for Feb. 23 and July 27, respectively, for the remaining two defendants – Jose Angel Vera, 28, of Santa Ana, California, and Kevan Ryan Perez, 33, also of Santa Ana, California.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Santa Ana office.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 02/10/2021