LUBBOCK, Texas — A firearms trafficker who stole guns from a Lubbock pawn shop was sentenced to 2.5 years in federal prison following an investigation by the ATF Lubbock Field Office, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Zachary Nicholas Gonzales, 21, pleaded guilty in September to theft of firearms from a federal firearms licensee.
In his plea papers, Mr. Gonzales admitted that in the early morning hours of July 4, 2019, he burglarized a Cash America Pawn shop on 50th Street, escaping with at least 14 stolen guns.
He breached the cage where guns were stored by propping a ladder next to the cage and removing several ceiling tiles in order to jump over the mesh, he said.
Surveillance video from an attempted burglary at anther Cash America location the evening of July 4 showed Mr. Gonzalez there as well.
Following his arrest on July 9, Mr. Gonzales was Mirandized and admitted to ATF agents that he intended to sell the stolen firearms to support his drug habit.
“Firearms traffickers are a menace to our communities, often allowing dangerous individuals to get their hands on deadly weapons,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “We’re proud to work with ATF and our state and local partners to prosecute this case under Project Guardian, the Attorney General’s gun violence reduction initiative.”
“Mr. Gonzales garnered funds to support his drug habit by victimizing a Federal Firearms Licensee and fueling the illicit firearms trade,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II. “At least one of the stolen firearms was subsequently used in a violent crime.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Lubbock Police Department, the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Department Public Safety conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Rancourt prosecuted the case. U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix handed down the sentence.
This case was brought under Project Guardian, a Department of Justice initiative aimed at reducing gun violence by enforcing federal firearm laws through coordination between the federal government and state and local law enforcement.