Federal authorities charged three Monmouth County men and a Florida man and woman with with conspiring to illegally sell firearms, including handguns and a semi-automatic rifle, in and around Monmouth County, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Enrique Quijada, 23, a/k/a “El Enano 13,” a/k/a “Kike,” of Freehold; Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, 30, a/k/a “Chino,” of Bartow, Florida; his brother, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, 31, a/k/a “Manin,” of Freehold; Javier Rodriguez-Valpais, 31, a/k/a “Broly,” of Morganville; and Jacquelyn Dejesus, 41, of Bartow, Florida, are each charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to engage in the business of unlicensed firearms dealing.
Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Rodriguez-Valpais are each additionally charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Dejesus are also charged with one count of unlawfully selling a firearm to an individual that they knew did not reside in their state of residence, namely Florida.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From May 2020 through September 2020, Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, Quijada, Rodriguez-Valpais, and Dejesus were members of a gun trafficking conspiracy that spanned from Florida to New Jersey. Dejesus allegedly assisted Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria – the alleged leader of the conspiracy – by acting as a “straw purchaser” of firearms in Florida. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Dejesus then transported the firearms from Florida to Monmouth County, where Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, assisted by Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria and Rodriguez-Valpais, allegedly sold the firearms to an individual working at the direction and supervision of the FBI. In addition, Rodriguez-Valpais allegedly sold a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle to Quijada, who, in turn, allegedly sold the rifle to an individual working at the direction and supervision of the FBI.
The counts of conspiracy to engage in the business of unlicensed firearms dealing and unlawfully selling a firearm to an unlicensed resident of another state each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to the charges and arrest. He also thanked the FBI Tampa Division, the ATF Newark and Tampa Field Divisions, and the Freehold Borough, New Jersey, Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensured that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information, please see: Project Guardian.