By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Last updated at 3:42 PM on 10th November 2010
Three retired Marines have been arrested after allegedly selling two boxes of AK47 assault rifles to a notorious Los Angeles street gang. Adam Gitschlag, who served in Iraq, was arrested at his suburban home in Orange County, California, following an investigation by Federal agents. He is accused of supervising the sale of two cases of firearms to members of the Florencia 13 gang for $6,000.
The gang member never took possession of the weapons, and the informant gave them to ATF agents after the sale.
On Monday, ATF agents arrested Jose Smith Pacheco, 31, of Montebello, and Miguel Ortiz, 49, of Northridge, both former Marines.
Also arrested were Edwin Cano, 33, of Northridge, and Christopher Thomas, 32, of Van Nuys.
All five defendants are charged with having unlawful assault weapons. Cano faces additional counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Investigators are still trying to determine where the guns came from, but several were purchased at gun shows in Arizona, ATF spokesman Chris Hoffman said.
Florencia 13 is a long-established Latino street gang which has grown to control large swaths of South Los Angeles.
The gang has been blamed for numerous murders, including the racist killings of black residents.
John Torres, the ATF’s special agent in charge of the Los Angeles area, said: ‘It is a shame that these individuals took an oath to protect the nation, but placed the communities at risk by allegedly selling illegal high-powered firearms to gang members.’
Stunned neighbours stood at the end of Gitschlag’s driveway as agents raided his house last week.
Boxes of ammunition and dozens of pistols and rifles were hauled out the building, including camouflaged, tactical-looking rifles with high-power scopes.
Authorities seized more than 20 handguns and 45 rifles and shotguns, as well as 4,000 rounds of ammunition.
Gitschlag said the charges are ‘definitely untrue’, claiming he is a private weapons collector and patriot who has worked hard to serve his country.
‘I did not sell any gang members any weapons,’ he added. ‘I love my country with all my heart. I would never expect my government to do this.’
He said most of the seized weapons were antiques, and he denied having any assault rifles.
Gitschlag left the Marines in 2005 after serving in Fallujah. He said he is a disabled combat veteran.
The arrests were announced a week after a Navy SEAL in San Diego and two others were charged with smuggling machine guns from Iraq for sale on the black market.
SEAL Nicholas Bickle of San Diego smuggled 80 AK-47 weapons from Iraq or Afghanistan, including factory-made 7.62 mm Iraqi machine guns that would be difficult or impossible to trace.
Other weapons included Ruger handguns of the type used by US military police officers.