30 September 2004 LAWFUEL – Best law news, attorney, criminal law, law firm news Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Julie Torres, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge, Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, announced today that defendant, Joseph Ruiz, the owner and operator of a Miami area gun shop, was arrested on September 28, 2004, on a criminal complaint, charging him with conspiring to export arms to South America, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, Title 22, United States Code, Section 2778, and Title 22, C.F.R., Sections 121.1, 123.1, and 127.1.
This arrest stems from an investigation that led to the Indictment of six (6) other
defendants, Rafael Samper, Edgar Semprun, Antonio Tarrab, Raul Gomez DeMolina,
Bilmer Paz, and Rodney Sharp, on similar charges. As part of this investigation,
federal agents have seized more than 700,000 rounds of ammunition, more than 200
weapons, and tools and parts necessary for the building of many more automatic
weapons. The investigation has revealed that the organization, in which Ruiz
participated, as alleged in the criminal complaint, has been for several years in
the business of purchasing and selling firearms and ammunition for profit in the
United States and then arranging for their illegal export by sea to Venezuela.
The weapons and ammunition are sold for profit to the highest bidders, usually in
Venezuela and Colombia. The investigation also has revealed that many of the
weapons and ammunition purchases were made by buyers and suppliers acting on behalf of the Colombian FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolutionaries de Colombia) and the
Colombian Paramilitary Group, AUC (Auto Defensas Unidas de Colombia). Both of
these groups have been designated by the U.S. State Department as terrorist
Ruiz is the owner and operator of Dade County Guns & Ammo, Inc., a federally
licensed firearms dealer located in Miami, Florida. As alleged in the criminal
complaint, Ruiz used his business to supply many of the weapons and rounds of
ammunition purchased and sold by the organization.
If convicted of conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and of the
substantive charge of violating that statute, Ruiz would face a statutory maximum
sentence of five (5) years’ imprisonment and ten (10) years’ imprisonment on each
charge, respectively, and up to $1 million in fines.
Mr. Jiménez commended the investigative efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms, and Explosives and of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The case is
being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Melissa Damian.