Two Modesto men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Fresno on Thursday, charged with being felons in possession of a firearm. One of the men, 31-year-old Orlando Rangel, also was charged with possession of a stolen firearm.
An operation involving undercover agents resulted in the recovery of two .50-caliber rifles, one in November and one in December.
Rangel was arraigned Thursday morning and pleaded not guilty. George Boone, 38, is scheduled for arraignment Jan. 6. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
The criminal complaint states that Nov. 20, an FBI agent learned from an informant that Boone and Rangel, previously convicted felons, had a .50-caliber automatic sniper rifle to sell for $3,500.
The informant met with the men and text-messaged the agent a photo of himself with the weapon.
On Nov. 21, Modesto police pulled over Rangel’s car for an equipment violation and asked if there were any firearms in the vehicle. “I have this thing, it’s a metal piece under my seat. I don’t know if it’s a weapon,” Rangel told police, according to the criminal complaint.
He consented to a search of his car, which turned up a bolt to a .50-caliber rifle and an “EO Tech Military grade red dot scope,” the criminal complaint says. “Rangel stated that he found the items in a shoe box while ‘Dumpster diving’ at Colonial Farms (apartments).”
On Nov. 25, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a task force officer, both undercover, worked with an informant to buy from Boone for $4,000 a Desert Tactical Arms .50-caliber rifle equipped with a scope and bipod, a rifle bolt, two rifle ammunition magazines and eight rounds of ammunition.
One of the undercover agents asked Boone if he had additional ammunition and was told that Boone could get 2,000 rounds. Boone also was asked if he could get other guns and replied that they had possession of a larger firearm than the 50-caliber, the criminal complaint says. He said he was unsure of the name of the gun but that it “straps to a tank.”
Asked about Kevlar equipment, Boone said “his partner gets that kind of stuff all day long,” the complaint says.
On Dec. 16, the ATF agent and task force officer purchased from Rangel for $15,000 a “Karma Metal Products (KMP) .50 caliber rifle, Model M3HB.” During that transaction, Rangel said he also could get AR-15 rifles, Claymore mines and night-vision goggles.
After the weapon purchase, ATF and Modesto police pulled over Rangel’s vehicle and took him into custody. During questioning, Rangel admitted to stealing both rifles on separate occasions from an acquaintance in Salida.
On Dec. 13, the Salida resident reported to Modesto police a residential burglary that occurred about a month earlier. He said five weapons were stolen from a vehicle on his property. One of them was the gun purchased by the agent Nov. 25.
On Dec. 15, the resident reported to Modesto police that a “belt-fed .50 caliber Browning M3HB machine gun” was stolen from his home. That appears to be the weapon purchased Dec. 16.
Neither Rangel nor Boone is in custody, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
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