Four Central Florida Men Sentenced To Prison For Firearms Offenses Involving Weapons Trafficking To Puerto Rico

Orlando, FL – U.S. District Judge Carlos E. Mendoza has sentenced Anthony Kenty Soto-Lopes (39, Orlando) to 11 years and 3 months in federal prison for aiding and abetting the making of a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer, and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. In January 2020, Judge Mendoza also sentenced Soto-Lopes’s three co-defendants to federal prison terms: Misael Adorno-Ortega (25, Orange City) to 7 years for aiding and abetting the making of a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon; Ivan Jomar Melendez-Ortiz (24, Orlando) to 37 months for making a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer; and Jose Gonzalez-Rodriguez (34, Davenport) to 8 months for making false statements to a licensed firearms dealer. All four men had previously pleaded guilty to the charges.

According to court documents, in October 2018, Soto-Lopes and Adorno-Ortega agreed to assist each other in acquiring firearms and shipping them to purchasers in Puerto Rico. Because they were previously convicted felons, Soto-Lopes and Adorno-Ortega could not purchase the firearms themselves. Instead, they recruited straw purchasers, including Melendez-Ortiz and Gonzalez-Rodriguez, to purchase firearms for them. Between October 2018 and June 2019, Soto-Lopes and Adorno-Ortega had the straw purchasers buy approximately 49 firearms from various firearms dealers in Central Florida. Melendez-Ortiz and Gonzalez-Rodriguez lied on the forms that they submitted to the firearms dealers by indicating that they were purchasing the firearms for their own use, when in fact they were purchasing the firearms for Soto-Lopes and Adorno-Ortega. Soto-Lopes and Adorno-Ortega then shipped the firearms to purchasers in Puerto Rico. Many of the firearms were AK-style firearms with high-capacity magazines.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Chauncey A. Bratt.

This is another case prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” Program (PSN), which is a nationwide, crime reduction strategy aimed at decreasing violent crime in communities. It involves a comprehensive approach to public safety — one that includes investigating and prosecuting crimes, along with prevention and reentry efforts. In the Middle District of Florida, U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez coordinates PSN efforts in cooperation with various federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

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