A fourth defendant admitted Friday that he was part of a ring that sold guns trafficked from Florida to the Jersey Shore to buyers working for the FBI.
Enrique Quijada, 24, of Freehold told a federal judge in Trenton via videoconference on Friday that he worked with ringleader Manuel “Chino” Espinosa-Ozoria of Bartow, FL his brother, Waldin “Manin” Espinosa-Ozoria of Freehold and two others.
The crew sold handguns and a semi-automatic rifle, among other weapons, to what turned out to be FBI operatives in and around Monmouth and Ocean counties, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.
Defendant Jacquelyn DeJesus, also of Bartow, filled the role of straw purchaser, buying the guns for Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria in Florida, Honig said.
They both then brought the weapons to Monmouth County, where Quijada and others sold them to “individuals working at the direction and supervision of the FBI,” the U.S. attorney said.
Quijada – also known as “El Enano 13” and “Kike” -- also sold drugs to the cooperators, she said.
Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, DeJesus and Javier Rodriguez-Valpais took guilty pleas to conspiring to illegally sell firearms rather than face trial. Quijada did the same on Friday. U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson scheduled his sentencing for April 5, 2022
That leaves only Manuel “Chino” Espinosa-Ozoria – and increases the government’s total to four potential witnesses who could testify against him if he chooses to go to trial.
Honig credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Field Office with the investigation leading to the pleas, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian D. Brater of her Criminal Division in Trenton.
She also thanked the FBI Tampa Division, the ATF Newark and Tampa field divisions and Freehold police for their assistance.
The case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s “signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws,” Carpenito said.
PROJECT GUARDIAN: justice.gov/archives/projectguardian
Handling the case for the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian D. Brater of Carpenito’s Criminal Division in Trenton.
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