Hagatña, Guam – SHAWN N. ANDERSON, United States Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, announced that defendant JOHN LEONARD CRUZ, age 49, from Merizo, was sentenced in the District Court of Guam to 24 months imprisonment, On August 22, 2019, Cruz entered a guilty plea to Felon in Possession of Firearm and Ammunition, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1). The Court also ordered three years of supervised release, twenty-five hours of community service, and the payment of a mandatory $100.00 special assessment fee.
On January 22, 2004, Cruz was convicted in the Superior Court of Guam for Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance (As a Third Degree Felony). As a convicted felon, Cruz was prohibited from possessing a firearm and ammunition. On August 22, 2018, Cruz knowingly possessed a 12 gauge shotgun and ammunition while hunting. Cruz did not have a valid firearm license. He told Guam conservation officers that he received the shotgun from someone so that he could go hunting.
U.S. Attorney Anderson states, “Section 922(g) of Title 18 lists a variety of instances where the possession of a firearm or ammunition is prohibited. The possession of even one round of ammunition can result in a substantial term of imprisonment. Importantly, federal firearm laws do not provide an exception for felons to possess these items for sporting purposes. Prohibited persons are therefore encouraged to avoid any circumstances that put them at risk of federal prosecution.”
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
The United States Attorney’s Office is also initiating similar prosecutions as part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and the Guam Department of Agriculture, Law Enforcement Section. This case was prosecuted by Stephen F. Leon Guerrero, Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Guam.