A Nevada Army National Guard soldier and a central valley gun store owner were federally charged Thursday, accused of conspiring to steal and sell military items worth thousands of dollars.
Marco Antonio Reyes, who returned from Afghanistan in March 2010 after a nine-month deployment with Nevada’s 1st Squadron, 221st Cavalry Regiment, and John Call, owner of Citadel Gun & Safe, were named in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. The complaint accused the men of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and embezzlement of public property.
The items are alleged to have been stolen from Nellis Air Force Base and possibly the Las Vegas Readiness Center at 4500 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd., where Reyes was assigned to the 17th Sustainment Brigade.
A National Guard spokesman said Guard officials are reviewing inventory documents to determine whether any items are missing from the readiness center in the south Las Vegas Valley.
The complaint said Reyes was arrested Aug. 19 and booked into the Henderson Detention Center. Henderson jail records showed he was not in the facility Thursday afternoon. Call was not arrested but cooperated with authorities and admitted to his role in buying stolen goods and then reselling them, the criminal complaint said. The supplies included ballistic vests, thermal imaging systems, heavy weapons mounts, cases of Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs, and chemical warfare suits.
Call’s store at 4305 S. Dean Martin Drive, near Flamingo Road, was raided Aug. 19 by Air Force officials with the aid of Las Vegas police and the FBI.
Nellis officials referred questions about the case to the U.S. attorney’s office, but the Nevada Guard released a statement. "The Nevada National Guard is cooperating with the Department of Justice at this time, and we will comment further when the investigation surrounding this situation has concluded," said Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka, a spokesman for the Nevada Guard.
Records from Nevada National Guard headquarters in Carson City showed Reyes is a sergeant first class who entered the service in 1992 and was deployed twice, from August 2004 to June 2006 and from April 2009 to June 2010.
Reyes’ awards and decorations include the Afghanistan campaign medal with campaign star, combat action badge, and the Army Commendation Medal, Achievement Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
According to the complaint, the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations conducted several undercover operations in which a confidential source or an Air Force special agent obtained information that Call possessed stolen government equipment. There also were several instances since Aug. 1 in which Call exchanged money with a confidential source working with the Air Force to buy supplies from Call.
The complaint said a confidential source working with the Air Force on June 14 learned that supplies were stolen from Nellis in either December 2010 or January 2011.
On Aug. 1, in an undercover operation, authorities bought $920 worth of supplies at Call’s gun store that included two vests, two infrared strobe lights and one chemical warfare suit. Eight days later, another undercover buy was conducted at the store for $950, which included a heavy-weapon mount and a box full of military Meals Ready to Eat.
The complaint noted that Call’s store was not authorized to sell any weapons systems because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms revoked the business’ Federal Firearms License for "providing weapons to Mexican nationals."
On Aug. 16, an Air Force special agent and a confidential informant negotiated with Call to buy a body vest, two heavy-weapon mounts, a chemical warfare suit and a laser ground pointer and other items for $3,700. Call was detained on Aug. 19 after conducting another deal with investigators for $10,300.
When Call spoke with authorities, he admitted to buying military equipment from several people and then reselling them, the complaint said. Call said he suspected the items were stolen.
Call said he had bought items from Reyes over the past few months, including heavy-weapon mounts for $400 each, chemical warfare suits for $35 each and ready-to-eat meals for $30 per case.
Call agreed to contact some of his suppliers, including Reyes. In a phone conversation that was recorded, Call asked Reyes whether he had any more heavy-weapon mounts, and Reyes said he would check and try to get 10 to 20 "surefire flashlights" for Call, the complaint said.
When investigators escorted Call through his store, he pointed out all of the items he said he had bought from Reyes, who was arrested later that day.