TRENTON, N.J. – A Monmouth County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for distributing cocaine in Monmouth County and conspiring to illegally sell firearms, including multiple handguns and a semi-automatic rifle, in and around Monmouth and Ocean counties, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Enrique Quijada, 25, of Freehold, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson to a superseding information charging him with one count of conspiracy to engage in firearms trafficking, one count of possession of a firearm by an alien unlawfully present in the United States, and one count of distribution of cocaine. Judge Thompson imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From May 2020 through September 2020, Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, Enrique Quijada, Javier Rodriguez-Valpais, and Jacquelyn DeJesus were members of a gun trafficking conspiracy that spanned from Florida to New Jersey. DeJesus allegedly assisted Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria – the alleged leader of the conspiracy – by acting as a “straw purchaser” of firearms in Florida. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and DeJesus then transported the firearms from Florida to Monmouth County, where members of the conspiracy, including Quijada, sold the firearms to individuals working at the direction and supervision of the FBI. Rodriguez-Valpais sold a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle to Quijada, who in turn sold the rifle to an individual working at the direction and supervision of the FBI. In addition to gun trafficking, Quijada admitted selling cocaine to an individual working at the direction and supervision of the FBI.
Three other members of the gun trafficking conspiracy – Javier Rodriguez-Valpais, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, and Jacquelyn DeJesus – previously have pleaded guilty in connection with this case. The charges against Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria remain pending.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Thompson sentenced Quijada to three years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked the FBI Tampa Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark and Tampa Field Divisions, and the Freehold Borough, New Jersey, police department for their assistance in the investigation.
In July 2021 the U.S. Department of Justice launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions across the country. Leveraging existing resources, the regional strike forces will better ensure sustained and focused coordination across jurisdictions and help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms from source cities, through other communities, and into five key market regions: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento Region and Washington, D.C. According to gun trace data, a significant number of firearms recovered in the New York/northern New Jersey area originate from outside the area. The new strike force will help ensure sustained and focused coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors in the New York/northern New Jersey area with their counterparts in those other locations.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian D. Brater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.
For the defendant whose charges remain pending, the charges and allegations are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.