Two Gardena Police Officers Charged in Illegal Federal Gun Sale Conspiracy

Two Gardena police officers have been charged in a federal illegal gun sales case, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Friday.

Carlos Miguel Fernandez, 42, a former detective with Gardena, and Edward Yasushiro Arao, 47, a former officer with Gardena, were charged with engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license and lying about it, the indictment said.

The officers face charges including conspiracy engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license and making a false statement in federal firearm records. The indictment alleges the pair illegally bought and sold guns between June 2013, and November 2017.

The two officers sold about 100 firearms, mostly .38-caliber pistols, officials said. According to the indictment, some of the guns that were sold are "off-roster" firearms, which means they can only be sold to members of the police or military, or through a private sale.

They advertised them on Fernandez's Instagram, called "the38superman," and sold them without a federal firearms license, the indictment alleges.

Arao advertised firearms on an Instagram account called "RONINTACTICALGROUP," which had about 25 posts about firearms. The suspects would used "the38superman" name and Ronin Tactical Group to market guns at gun shows, the indictment alleges.

They allegedly negotiated prices, and arranged the time, date, and location for the sale of the firearms to take place, the indictment alleges.

The indictment comes on the heels of a case involving a Pasadena police lieutenant who recently resigned after being charged in an illegal gun sales case.

A federal indictment unsealed earlier this month charged Vasken Gourdikian, a former Pasadena police spokesman, with three felonies for allegedly selling more than 100 guns without a license. Amid the controversy, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez announced this month that he is going to retire, effective April 18.

The officers, both 17-year veterans, have been placed on administrative leave and have been relieved of all duties, Gardena Police Chief Edward Medrano said in a statement. He said the police department is cooperating fully with the ATF, which recently issued a memo to police chiefs warning of an "emerging problem" of officers in Southern California illegally buying and selling guns.

"We are deeply concerned about the case," he said. "This type of conduct is inconsistent with our organizational values and the ethics of our profession and will not be tolerated by the Gardena Police Department."

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