A truck driver for the United Parcel Service was arrested on a federal indictment Friday for allegedly stealing dozens of guns that were sold on the black market, federal prosecutors said.
In 2012, Chris Hays, 36, of Rancho Cucamonga allegedly stole packages at the UPS shipping hub in Ontario, Ca., east of Los Angeles, according to the indictment. The packages contained 72 weapons which included .22-caliber rifles, .12-gauge shotguns and .22-caliber and .45-caliber pistols, authorities allege.
“This is an unusual case,” Carlo A. DiCesare, a special assistant U.S. Attorney, told KPCC. “It was a large number of firearms that were stolen, and they were stolen from a reputable shipping company.”
The stolen shipments were headed for a Turner’s Outdoorsman sporting good store in Rancho Cucamonga. Hays allegedly passed the guns through a middle man, Dennis Dell White, Jr., 35, of Moreno Valley, who would then sell them illegally.
“Certainly there is a huge market out there,” DiCesare said of illegal gun sales in Southern California. “What the full extent of it is – I don’t know if anyone knows.”
In the 16-count indictment, both Hays and White stand accused of conspiracy, theft of firearms, receipt and possession of stolen firearms and theft, and possession of interstate and foreign shipments. They could face up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted of the weapons charges alone.
Hays also allegedly stole more than $7,00 worth of jewelry and some cellphones that were supposed to be delivered to Turner’s Outdoorsman and other retailers, prosecutors said.
Representatives from UPS, who have been cooperating with federal investigators regarding the case for more than two years, claim the integrity and efficiency of the organization is still in tact.
White was not arrested but is expected to surrender later and face the charges, officials said.