2 soldiers accused of selling assault rifles and military ammunition

Two soldiers charged with selling weapons to undercover agent posing as Mexican drug cartel member

Two soldiers assigned to the El Cajon armory were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of illegally selling high-grade weaponry, including assault rifles and military ammunition.

The sales were allegedly made to an undercover federal agent posing as a member of a Mexican drug cartel.

Spec. Jaime Casillas, 22, of El Cajon and Staff Sgt. Andrew Reyes, 34, of La Mesa wore their uniforms during at least one transaction, according to court documents.

Among the items sold to the agent were 1,600 rounds of ammunition from a "U.S. military inventory," according to the charges filed against Casillas and Reyes. Bullet-resistant body armor sold to the agent was also from a military inventory, according to the charges.

The 1,600 rounds of ammunition was sold for $700, the body armor for $2,000, according to documents. A second sale of ammunition from a military inventory was allegedly made for $800.

The two were taken to the downtown federal prison and are set to be arraigned Thursday in San Diego federal court.

While Casillas and Reyes are identified as Army reservists in federal court documents, the Army Reserve says the two are actually members of the California National Guard, a separate military organization.

Each faces a charge of dealing in firearms without a federal license. Reyes faces a charge of unlicensed transportation of weapons. Casillas is a Mexican national and may have joined the military to assist in becoming a U.S. citizen.

Documents accuse the two of seven transactions in which they sold thousands of rounds of ammunition, four AR-15 rifles, an AK-47 assault rifle, a .40-caliber pistol, and a 7.62-caliber SKS rifle to the undercover agent.

Reyes allegedly boasted to the agent that the pistol had been used "to do a job" in Tijuana.

The AR-15 is the civilian equivalent of the M-16 used by the military.

The AK-47, whose design is attributed to Soviet Lt. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov, has been mass-produced in several Eastern Bloc countries and is a favorite weapon of U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan and of Mexican cartel members. It is known as sturdy and easy to use.

Reyes and Casillas allegedly sold the AK-47 to the agent for $1,700.

In one transaction, the two wore their Army uniforms and allegedly received $2,150 from the agent for an AR-15 rifle. In an eight-month investigation, 10 weapons were purchased, according to court documents.

Some of the weapons were allegedly purchased by Reyes in Texas and then brought to San Diego to sell to the undercover agent, who told Reyes and Casillas that he planned to take them to Mexico.



Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


April 16, 11:53 a.m.: This article and its headline have been updated to identify the suspects as soldiers. Federal court documents identify the men as Army Reservists, but the Army Reserve told The Times that the two are members of the Army National Guard.