A former police officer with the Virginia Gardens department pleaded guilty on Nov. 9 to illegally selling guns.
Jose Antonio Quintana, 55, of Virginia Gardens, faces up to five years in federal prison for dealing in firearms without a license, court records show.
As part of his plea agreement, Quintana agreed to pay $10,000 to ATF as investigative costs. This investigation resulted in one of the largest firearms seizures from one individual in the Southern District of Florida, officials said.
Quintana also agreed to the forfeiture of 96 rifles, 79 shotguns, 418 handguns and approximately 25,889 rounds of ammunition that were seized from Quintana as part of the investigation.
ATF agents arrested Quintana in July after investigating him since 2009.
“There was a van backed in his driveway and ATF agents were carrying boxes filled with large plastic bags which were filled with guns,” Virginia Gardens Mayor Spencer Deno told the Gazette last July after ATF agents swarmed Quintana’s home and carted away box loads of guns. “I didn’t get out of my car or stay long.”
Quintana attended numerous gun shows between 2008 and 2012 across Florida where he sold firearms as alleged “private” sales, according to prosecutors. He also allegedly failed to report his activity to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, complete the requisite paper work or conduct background checks of customers. These interactions were either audio- or video-recorded by ATF, court records show.
In one of the undercover purchases, Quintana claimed that the law allowed him to privately sell a reasonable unspecified quantity of firearms. In the recorded conversation, Quintana stated, “Let us say, 12, 24, 36, 50 firearms per year. Let us say, reasonable ... I surpassed that a long time ago.”
During this period, undercover ATF agents allegedly purchased 11 firearms valued at $6,000 from Quintana, who served as a police officer for the Virginia Gardens department.
“He worked with our department as a reserve police officer in 2007-08 for about five months,” Virginia Gardens Police Chief James Chohonis told the Gazette shortly after after Quintana’s arrest by federal authorities. “He left in search of a full-time position.”
Once a licensed federal firearms dealer, Quintana was aware of the federal licensing requirements, according to prosecutors.
Investigators have identified three others who Quintana was allegedly working with by their initials: RV, TV and JR. According to court documents, they are also being investigated as unlicensed dealers.
Quintana is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18, 2013 before U.S. District Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp. At sentencing, Quintana faces a statutory sentence of up to five years in prison as well as three years of probation, a fine of up to $250,000, and a special $100 court fee.
Quintana’s attorney did not respond to an e-mail from the Gazette seeking comment.