Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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Man pleads guilty to buying guns in Vegas bound for Mexico

A man has pleaded guilty to using straw buyers to purchase at least 28 rifles and handguns in Las Vegas, knowing that the weapons were going to be taken to Mexico for criminal activity, U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden of Nevada said today.

Claudio Caesar Penunuri, 34, pleaded guilty Friday before U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan to dealing in firearms without a license, Bogden said.

Penunuri, also known as "Zorra" and "Arturo Cardenas," is scheduled to be sentenced at 11 a.m. Jan. 25 and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, Bogden said.

From July 25 to Dec. 23, 2008, Penunuri paid "J.V." to buy more than $100,000 worth of guns from licensed dealers in Las Vegas. In turn, "J.V." bought the guns in his name and in the names of others, then took them to Penunuri in California, according to the guilty plea memo.

Penunuri also came to Las Vegas to pick up some of the guns. Penunuri then sold the weapons to another individual from Sinaloa, Mexico, knowing that the guns were being taken to Mexico, authorities said. Penunuri admitted that he bought, sold and disposed of the weapons for profit and for criminal activities.

The plea memo lists 28 weapons purchased in Las Vegas by "J.V." on behalf of Penunuri. Of the weapons, 25 were rifles, including high-powered ones -- .50-caliber rifles -- and the rest were 5.7-caliber pistols. The weapons have an estimated worth of more than $100,000.

Before his arrest in February, Penunuri lived in Anaheim, Calif. He is originally from Mexico and is in the United States unlawfully, Bogden said.

Another individual who got several weapons in Las Vegas for Penunuri, Uvaldo Salazar-Lopez, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and was sentenced June 30.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas D. Dickinson.

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