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Utah residents charged with gun crimes, trying to send guns to Arizona, then Mexico

© iStock - Josiah S
Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) - Four Salt Lake County residents face accusations of participating in the purchase of or attempted purchase of many firearms in Utah and attempting to supplying them to Mexico.

Jose Manuel Barbosa Torres, 36, of West Valley City, Utah; Armando Figueroa Jr., 20, of Magna, Utah; Cecilio Luis Arriaga, 27, of West Valley City; and Iliana Dennis, 20, of West Valley City, were charged in a sealed indictment last month, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Utah.

The defendants face accusations of buying or attempting to buy numerous Barrett .50 BMG caliber rifles between April 2023 and August 2023. The purchases happened at Federal Firearm Licensees.

The firearms in question typically sell for between $8,500 to $10,000.

Each defendant filled out an ATF Form 4473. On the form, they said they were the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm. They also certified the submitted information was accurate despite it being false.

Agents intercepted Barbosa Torres and Dennis in August 2023 while they were trying to purchase firearms.

Barbosa Torres allegedly told agents he told Dennis to buy the firearms, which were ultimately going to Cesa Rivera in Arizona.

"During the investigation, Barbosa Torres again acknowledged the firearms were being purchased for Rivera and stated Rivera was sending the firearms to Culiacán, Mexico," the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Rivera made a recent appearance before the U.S. District Court in the District of Utah for a firearms case in Arizona. Law enforcement arrested him in Utah on Oct. 23, 2023, at Barbosa Torres’ West Valley City residence. Law enforcement also arrested Barbosa Torres, Figueroa, Arriaga, and Dennis on the same day.

Barbosa Torres faces charges for "making false statements during the acquisition or attempted acquisition of firearms, and aiding and abetting," the release said.

The indictment also charges Figueroa, Arriaga, and Dennis, respectively, the release said.

The defendants had their initial court appearances and detention hearings October 27, 2023.

Figueroa, Arriaga, and Dennis were all released from custody on conditions, but Barbosa Torres was ordered detained pending trial.

A five-day jury trial will begin December 15, 2023, before a U.S. District Court Judge at the Orrin G. Hatch United States District Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is investigating the case, while Assistant United States Attorney Victoria McFarland of the District of Utah is prosecuting it.

"This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone," the release said. "On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results."