Three New Jersey men and a man and woman from Florida have been charged 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.
According to federal officials, Enrique Quijada, 23, of Freehold; Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, 30, of Bartow, Florida; Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, 31, of Freehold; Javier Rodriguez-Valpais, 31, of Morganville and Jacquelyn Dejesus, 41, of Bartow, Florida, are each charged by criminal complaint with 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.
Quijada, Rodriguez-Valpais and Dejesus were arrested are scheduled to appear by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zahid N. Quraishi. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria remain at large,
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.
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.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.