Two California Army National Guardsmen admitted last week that they had sold guns to an undercover agent in the belief the weapons were headed for Mexico.
Staff Sgt. Andrew Reyes, 33, of La Mesa and Spc. Jaime Casillas, 23, of El Cajon each pleaded guilty to one count of dealing firearms without a license; Reyes also pleaded guilty to three charges of unlicensed transportation of firearms.
The guardsmen were arrested in April on charges of selling nonmilitary assault rifles and a pistol to the agent, who led them to believe the weaponry was going to be used by a drug cartel, according to prosecutors.
Authorities said they also were accused of selling military equipment from the California National Guard, including gun magazines, ammunition, ballistic vests and the ceramic shields that go inside the vests.
The investigation began, authorities said, when Casillas boasted to the undercover agent that he could procure such items.
The transactions that the men admitted to in court Thursday included the sale of a $1,700 AK-47, a $2,150 AR-15, a .40-caliber pistol and four high-capacity .223 magazines, according to the plea agreement. Reyes admitted obtaining many of the guns in Texas and then driving them to California to sell.
During the sale of the pistol, authorities said, Casillas boasted that the gun had been used to "do a job" in Tijuana, according to the complaint.
The latest item under negotiation was a .50-caliber rifle for $15,000, the type of weapon that might come from the National Guard, prosecutors said. Agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives decided to end the operation and arrest the pair before the sale happened.
Reyes had served in the Marines before enlisting in the Guard in 2008. Casillas joined in 2011, according to a military spokesman.
They are set to be sentenced April 15.
Davis writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune