Three Monmouth County men and a man and a 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 on Sept. 30.
Enrique Quijada, 23, of Freehold, Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, 30, of Bartow, Fla., his brother, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, 31, of Freehold, Javier Rodriguez-Valpais, 31, of Marlboro, and Jacquelyn Dejesus, 41, of Bartow, Fla., are each charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to engage in the business of unlicensed firearms dealing, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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 they knew did not reside in their state of residence, namely Florida.
Quijada, Rodriguez-Valpais and Dejesus were arrested on Sept. 30 are were scheduled to appear by video conference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zahid N. Quraishi. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria were still at large,
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from May through September, 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, according to the press release.
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 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Newark and Tampa field divisions and the Freehold Borough Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the U.S. Department of Justice’s initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws, according to the press release.