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Two Jacksonville men sentenced to six years for firearms smuggling and murder-for-hire plot


Jacksonville, Florida – Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan sentenced Antonio Jose Melean Reyes (29) and Gabriel Daniel Pinnace (32), both of Jacksonville, to six years in federal prison for smuggling firearms outside of the United States. The sentences follow Reyes’ and Pinnace’s respective guilty pleas to various federal crimes involving firearms smuggling.

Key Details of the Smuggling Operation

According to court documents, Reyes and Pinnace attempted to smuggle three firearms and 57 rounds of ammunition from Jacksonville to Venezuela on May 15, 2021. Reyes recruited Pinnace to purchase the weapons from licensed firearms dealers, knowing they would be sent to Venezuela.

Pinnace falsified the necessary ATF Forms 4473 during the purchase, a mandatory step for all firearm transactions, and attempted to obliterate the serial numbers to conceal the source of the weapons. The firearms, a Glock 17 pistol and two Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifles, were then given to Reyes, who hid them inside a futon to be shipped through a freight forwarding service.

Employees at the shipping company discovered the firearms during a routine x-ray and notified law enforcement. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Miami seized the weapons on May 22, 2021, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) technicians restored the serial numbers. This allowed ATF agents to trace the firearms back to Pinnace, who falsely reported the weapons as stolen after learning they had been seized.

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Uncovering the Murder-for-Hire Plot

Federal agents discovered Reyes’ involvement in a murder-for-hire plot after searching his cellphone following his arrest on unrelated state charges on August 11, 2023. Conversations between Reyes and Pinnace revealed a scheme to murder two victims over a $60,000 debt.

Between July 12 and August 9, 2023, Reyes and accomplices surveilled the victims in Jacksonville, including at their residence. Reyes had also asked Pinnace to hire a hitman for $15,000. Federal agents intervened and arrested Reyes on a criminal complaint.

Sting Operation Leads to Pinnace’s Arrest

On August 26, 2023, agents from ATF, HSI, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) carried out an undercover operation to purchase firearms directly from Pinnace. He met with an undercover agent, agreed to sell them three firearms, and later purchased two more from a gun store after falsifying ATF Forms.

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After selling the weapons to the agent, Pinnace advised them to destroy the serial numbers. Agents immediately arrested him on a criminal complaint.

The investigation was a collaborative effort involving HSI, ATF, CBP, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Aakash Singh.

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