By Shereen Siewert
GREEN BAY — Two Shawano men are headed for federal prison after buying multiple guns on behalf of people who were prohibited from owning weapons.
The charges, filed June 29 in U.S. Eastern District Court in Green Bay, accuse 24-year-old Gary Hancock and 29-year-old Jesus Solorio Zepeda with knowingly transferring firearms to out of state residents, transferring firearms to a convicted felon, transferring firearms to an illegal alien, and knowingly transferring a firearm to be used in a drug trafficking crime.
An investigation began in 2015, when two of the weapons were captured at a border control checkpoint in Arizona by U.S. Customs and Border Control agents. Those firearms were among 16 weapons hidden in a Toyota Tacoma that was headed for Mexico, police said.
Another weapon was found during a search of a home in Santa Rosa, California, according to the criminal complaint.
Investigators learned that Hancock and Zepeda traveled from Shawano to Green Bay on multiple occasions to buy weapons at trade shows, where they lied on background checks and were able to purchase the weapons. Those guns were then sold to people from California who were visiting Shawano, police said.
Hancock admitted to police he ran a so-called “straw purchase” operation from 2013 to 2014, where he bought firearms on behalf of other people, according to the complaint. Zepeda told police he was the “middleman” who handled the money and arranged the sales.