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3 California men face federal gun trafficking charges in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY — Three California men face federal gun trafficking charges after they allegedly bought or tried to buy 27 firearms in Utah in the past four months.

Erick Lopez, 20; Christopher Lopez, 22; and Bryan Rodriguez, 21, were charged with travel within the United States with intent to deal firearms without a license, according to a complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

In late October, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives learned that one of the guns, a Glock pistol, had been recovered during a traffic stop in Arizona involving a convicted felon.

According to the complaint, Rodriguez told federal agents that he bought the guns for Erick Lopez and Christopher Lopez and another unidentified man because they were unable to legally buy firearms in Utah.

Prior to each transaction at several stores, the three men gave Rodriguez instructions as to the quantity and type of guns to buy and provided him with cash for each sale, the complaint says. The three men are believed to be related to each other.

None of them had a valid federal firearms license to deal, transport or ship guns.

Investigators tracked the men down after Sportsman’s Warehouse contacted the ATF to report a suspicious attempt by a man to buy five pistols. He was seen with two other men in a rental car with California license plates, according to the complaint. ATF agents linked the car to Rodriguez, Erick Lopez and Christopher Lopez.

The three men made initial court appearances last week. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead found Erick Lopez a flight risk and a danger to the community. He will remain in custody pending resolution of the case.

Detention hearings are scheduled next week for Rodriguez and Christopher Lopez.

All three face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.