Two National Guard soldiers have pleaded guilty to illegally selling "numerous guns" – including military-style rifles and ammunition – believing that they were destined for Mexico.
Staff Sgt. Andrew Reyes and Spc. Jaime Casillas worked in the Army National Guard Armory in El Cajon, which is about 20 miles northeast of San Diego, California.
They both pleaded guilty to one count of dealing firearms without a license, according to a statement Thursday from the U.S. attorney's office for the southern district of California.
Reyes also pleaded guilty to three counts of unlicensed transportation of firearms, admitting that he made at least three trips to Texas to buy assault weapons that he then illegally transported to California and sold to an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Each charge carries up to five years in prison.
Reyes, 34, has been in the Guard since 2006, while Casillas, 22, since 2011, according to information from the California National Guard. Both soldiers belonged to C Troop, 1st Squadron, 18th Cavalry Regiment.
They are scheduled to be sentenced on April 15 in federal court.
The charges against Reyes and Casillas range from August 2014 to March 2015, according to both men's plea agreements.
According to his plea agreement, Reyes sold an AK-47 rifle, three AR-15 rifles and four high-capacity rifle magazines between September 2014 and March 2015; all of the materiel was sold to the undercover ATF agent.
In each case, Reyes admitted that he believed the guns were destined for Mexico, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Casillas, in his plea agreement, admitted that he sold a .40 caliber pistol and an AR-15 to the undercover agent between August and October 2014. He also was present when Reyes sold one of the AR-15s.
Like Reyes, Casillas admitted that he believed the guns were headed to Mexico.
Some of the items Reyes and Casillas sold were military-issued, while some were bought in Texas and resold to the undercover agent, according to the criminal complaint.
The undercover agent, on multiple occasions, made clear to Reyes and Casillas that the guns were destined for Mexico, according to the criminal complaint. The agent also told the two soldiers that he was a member of a Mexican drug cartel, according to the complaint.
During one transaction, the defendants showed up wearing their Army uniforms. They also noted that some of the guns they got in Texas had obliterated serial numbers or were "hot," meaning they'd been used in a crime or were stolen, according to the complaint.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.