Wednesday, April 15, 2015



Feds: Army reservists sold military guns
Prosecutors say men tried to sell weaponry to agent posing as drug cartel operative
By Kristina Davis6:25 P.M.APRIL 15, 2015Updated7:52 P.M.

Two East County U.S. Army reservists were arrested Wednesday, accused of selling a cache of military firearms for thousands of dollars to an undercover agent posing as a Mexican drug cartel operative.

Jaime Casillas, 22, of El Cajon, and Andrew Reyes, 34, of La Mesa, were arrested after search warrants were served at their homes, according to federal authorities.

Both worked at the Army National Guard Armory in La Mesa, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Reyes is accused of traveling several times to Texas to obtain numerous weapons, including assault rifles, magazines and ballistic plates for protective vests, which he then sold in San Diego.

The alleged scheme began in August, when an undercover agent working with a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force met with Casillas, who boasted of his ability to acquire firearms, body armor and ammunition for sale, according to an affidavit filed by an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives. The agent told Casillas he was working to procure weaponry for drug traffickers in Mexico.

Soon after, Casillas sold the supposed cartel man 1,600 rounds of .223-caliber ammunition – later identified as U.S. military inventory – for $700, the affidavit states.

In a second buy, Casillas sold the agent a .40-caliber pistol for $800 from his El Cajon mobile home, saying the gun had already been used to "do a job" in Tijuana, the document says.

About a month later, Reyes sold the agent an AK-47 for $1,700, authorities say.

Several similar firearms sales followed over the next several months, including an AR-15 with a fake serial number, an expensive AR-15 with a mounted scope, hundreds of AR-15 ammunition magazines, and a .45 caliber pistol described as "hot," meaning it had been used in a crime or was stolen. In December, Reyes sold the agent 20 ceramic trauma (bullet-resistant) plates that are inserted into ballistic vests for $2,000, telling the agent that the gear was from the military, court records say.

A tracking device hidden under Reyes' vehicle mapped his drives to and from Texas, authorities said.

In one of the last transactions, Reyes text messaged the agent a short video of him firing an AR-15 with a scope at what appeared to be an outdoor shooting range, saying he wanted to make sure it "fired smoothly" because it was "just built," the affidavit says.

On March 16, both Casillas, dressed in an Army camouflage uniform, and Reyes, wearing Army gym clothing, met with the purported cartel man to sell that gun for $2,150.

The last deal was for a $15,000 .50-caliber rifle, but that sale never completed, authorities said. In all, they are accused of selling six rifles, a pistol, and the plates, ammunition and magazines, for a total of $15,450, according to the complaint.

After his arrest, Casillas admitted selling weaponry but said he merely coordinated the sales for Reyes and did not personally profit from the business, the affidavit says.

Casillas was arrested during a traffic stop in El Cajon, and Reyes was taken into custody at his home, federal officials said.

Both are scheduled to be arraigned at 2 p.m. Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell Dembin on charges of dealing firearms without a license and unlicensed transportation of firearms, prosecutors said.

San Diego has been no stranger to such schemes.

In 2011, a former sailor got 30 months in prison for stealing then selling $170,000 worth of military equipment, some considered highly sensitive, while stationed at Coronado Naval Amphibious Base.

Phillip Jamison, who worked in the armory, loaded up his backpack with the stolen gear, such as night-vision and tactical equipment, and walked off the base on a weekly basis. He sold about 280 items over the course of a year, often on eBay. Some was sold to customers in Hong Kong, prosecutors said.

Also, former Coronado-based Navy SEAL Nicholas Bickle was sentenced to 17½ years in 2012 after being found guilty of smuggling machine guns home from Iraq and then giving them and other weapons to friends to sell on the street. He smuggled as many as 100 guns in a footlocker with a false bottom, prosecutors said during the trial in Nevada. In his storage unit in San Diego, alongside the footlocker, authorities found 3,000 rounds of military ammunition, pieces of detonating equipment and two handguns originally intended for use by Iraqi police forces.

He argued to a federal appeals court that his service-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder gave him diminished mental capacity, but the court said nothing in his military record confirmed that and found he had carefully planned his crimes, according to court documents.


Six rifles (Four AR-15 rifles, one AK-47 rifle, one SKS rifle)
.40 caliber pistol
20 protective inserts for ballistic vests
1,600 rounds .223 caliber ammunition
Four .223 caliber rifle magazines
150 .223 caliber rifle magazines
Two ballistic vests/plates
Dozen other rifle magazines


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