U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott singled out a suspected big-time gun dealer during a Thursday afternoon news conference in Fresno called to discuss a recent weapons sweep.
Federal officials named James Bowen in an indictment for sales of 221 firearms, including 85 rifles, 35 shotguns and 94 pistols, plus five silencers, one suspected machine gun and an auto-firing mechanism.
Scott said Bowen is prohibited from possessing guns because of a prior conviction for sales of methamphetamine, yet he sold guns between Feb. 23, 2017, and Jan. 16, 2018, when a joint operation by Fresno police gang officers and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rolled through the region. Along with the firearms, officers seized drill presses and a lathe used to manufacture or modify weapons and silencers.
The address where the illegal gun sales took place was not revealed by McGregor, who indicated that authorities did not want to tip their hand about such investigations. He did say that it was “one of the largest seizures in the history of the city of Fresno.”
He said the weapons were “sold out the back door to anyone who could meet the price.
“There’s no secret that the state of California is awash with guns,” added McGregor, who added that out-of-state sales, including weapons purchased at Reno, Nevada gun shows, continue to pour into the state.
Fresno Deputy Police Chief Pat Farmer noted that his officers take an average of five to seven guns in possession of gang members off the streets weekly.
If Bowen is prosecuted on federal charges, he would face more severe penalties than he would on state charges.