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2 California police officers accused of illegal weapon sale

LOS ANGELES – Two Southern California police officers accused of the purchase of the so-called off-roster firearms that are not available to the general public and illegal resale of weapons, federal prosecutors said Monday.

A federal grand jury indictment alleges Gardena Police officers Carlos Miguel Fernandez, 42, and Edward Yasushiro Arao, 47, conspired with each other and are involved in the dealing of firearms without a license, the Los Angeles U.s. Attorney’s Office announced.

Collectively, the officers accused of illegally selling approximately 100 firearms — usually a Colt .38-caliber pistols, without a license.

Off-grid’ guns are not available to the general public, but can be legally purchased by law enforcement officials.

The officers are ordered to appear for arraignment on April 3. Information on their attorneys was not immediately available and the union represents officers in Gardena not immediately respond to an e-mail message seeking comment.

Gardena police chief Edward Medrano said the officers have been placed on administrative leave, and the department has worked with researchers.

“We are deeply concerned about the case,” Medrano said in a statement. “This kind of behavior is not consistent with the organisational values and the ethics of our profession and will not be tolerated by the Gardena Police Department.”

The indictment also names of the other people who allegedly were involved in the “straw buyer” transactions.

The plaintiffs claim that Fernandez stated the weapons provided by themselves, Arao and others on his Instagram account. Arao, who was the CEO of Ronin Tactical Group, a federal firearms licensee, also advertised guns on his company’s account, according to the indictment.

Both officers also allegedly marketed a firearm at the gun shows, without the appropriate licenses.

If convicted of all charges, Fernandez would face up to 15 years, and Arao can be sentenced to 10 years behind bars, prosecutors said.

Gardena is a city of about 58,000 inhabitants in the south-west of Los Angeles County and has approximately 90 police officers.

Earlier this month, a police lieutenant in Los Angeles County in the city of Pasadena was arrested on similar charges. Lt. Vasken Gourdikian was indicted for illegally selling more than 100 firearms between March 2014 and February 2017.

Gourdikian is accused of using his status as a police officer to buy guns that were not available to the general public and then resell the weapons. He is also accused of possession of an unregistered weapon and making false statements on federal firearms forms.

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