A 32-year-old Chicago man was indicted on federal gun charges last week, about three months after buying two firearms from an undercover agent, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Lazaro Salas, a known gang member, has been charged with dealing guns without a license and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested him in January. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
According to court documents, authorities set up the buy after they were tipped off by a confidential informant, who acted as a straw buyer providing Salas between 40 and 60 guns from September 2013 to November 2015. Salas would resell the guns and at least two of them were recovered by the Chicago Police Department from crime scenes involving members of other gangs.
The informant’s Firearm Owner’s Identification card, which is required to own a firearm in Illinois, had been presented to half a dozen federal firearms licensed dealers a total of 29 times from March to November of last year — purchases made specifically for Salas.
According to court documents, the informant would search ArmsList.com for guns, contact the seller, and arrange the buy. The informant told authorities he would buy one, two or three guns at a time for Salas, but never more than three at a time. He told authorities his communications with Salas would include the code words “gym shoes” and “video games” for firearms, with a number indicating the caliber Salas desired.
Although the informant had a number of prior arrests, he had no convictions that would prohibit him from purchasing firearms. Court documents show authorities made no deals with the informant for cooperating with the investigation, but did note he was told any cooperation provided during the investigation would be taken into consideration for any future prosecutions the informant may face.
Federal authorities began working the informant in December and set up the undercover sale in January. In court documents, the ATF stated that investigators believed Salas intended to buy more guns from the agent.
Daniel Terrill contributed to the reporting of this article