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Freehold man indicted in connection with gun trafficking conspiracy

A male resident of Freehold and a male resident of Florida have been charged with conspiring to illegally sell firearms, including handguns and a semi-automatic rifle, in and around Monmouth and Ocean counties, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, 31, also known as Chino, of Bartow, Fla., and Enrique Quijada, 24, also known as El Enano 13 and Kike, of Freehold, were each charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to engage in firearms trafficking, according to a press release from Honig’s office.

Espinosa-Ozoria was also charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Quijada was also charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by an alien unlawfully present in the United States, according to the press release.

According to the indictment, from May 2020 through September 2020, Espinosa-Ozoria, Quijada and others were members of a gun trafficking conspiracy operating in Monmouth and Ocean counties, in which they unlawfully obtained, possessed and sold firearms for profit.

The count of conspiracy to engage in firearms trafficking carries 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 and possession of a firearm by an alien unlawfully present in the United States each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges. She also thanked the FBI Tampa Division, the ATF Newark and Tampa Field Divisions, and the Freehold Borough Police Department for their assistance, according to the press release.

In July, the U.S. Department of Justice launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions across the country, according to the press release.

Leveraging existing resources, the regional strike forces will better ensure sustained and focused coordination across jurisdictions and help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms from source cities, through other communities, and into five key market regions: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento region and Washington, D.C., according to the press release.

According to gun trace data, a significant number of firearms recovered in the New York/northern New Jersey area originate from outside the area. The new strike force will help ensure sustained and focused coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors in the New York/northern New Jersey area with their counterparts in the other named locations, according to the press release.

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