WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – After a year-long investigation, a mom and her son were federally charged for illegally dealing firearms in Utah.
According to a press release issued by the Department of Justice, Norma Llamas Rodriguez, 46, of Moreno Valley, California, and her son, Carlos Arturo Garcia, 21, of West Valley City, are facing seven-counts related to dealing firearms in Utah without a license.
According to the indictment, from June 2017 to February 2019, Rodriguez and Garcia purchased at least 48 firearms for resale without possessing a Federal Firearms License (FFL) as required by law.
Seven of the firearms purchased were semi-automatic belt-fed tripod mount rifles, purchased between Nov. 2018 and Feb. 2019 for around $7,500. During the same period, the indictment alleges the pair transferred firearms to others without conducting lawful transfers.
ATF special agents in Utah launched an investigation in February 2019 after receiving information from a concerned seller about a suspicious purchase of a belt-fed rifle they had for sale for $7,900.
Shortly after the sale, Rodriguez requested a refund for the firearm, saying she was “spooked” and wanted her money back. The seller then contacted the ATF after he noticed she had purchased $24,000 worth of firearms within the last month, according to the complaint.
The ATF discovered the other firearms were shipped to Salt Lake City and Murray where Rodriguez and Garcia picked them up, documents state.
Agents found that between October 2017 and December 2018, Llamas had purchased an additional 22 AR-15 type rifles and four handguns from one FFL (licensed) dealer.
ATF served a search warrant at two mobile homes in South Salt Lake City on Feb. 14, 2019.
Agents found three firearms, documentation showing wire transfers to/from Mexico, multiple firearm operator manuals, and $7,400 in cash. Garcia told agents Rodriguez was buying the firearms for Hispanic males and was on her way to California with one of the rifles.
During the investigation, ATF agents learned on March 3, 2018, six AR-15 firearms were seized at the Nogales Port of Entry on a bus entering Mexico from the United States. Four of those firearms were traced to Rodriguez.
Both Garcia and Rodriguez were charged with one count of dealing in firearms without a license. Rodriguez also faces four counts of false statements in the acquisition of a firearm and Garcia is charged with two of the same counts.
The maximum potential penalty for dealing in firearms without a license is five years in prison and each of the false statements in the acquisition of a firearm counts has a potential sentence of 10 years in prison.
Rodriguez, a former West Valley City resident, was arrested in California where she had her initial appearance in federal court in California. She was released on a $100,000 bond then traveled to Salt Lake City where she entered a plea of not guilty Monday afternoon. She remains free on bond.
Garcia, a U.S. citizen, was taken into custody when he came to the federal courthouse Monday afternoon. He had an initial appearance Tuesday where he entered a plea of not guilty. He was released on conditions of supervised release.