CHICAGO — Two men have been indicted on federal firearm offenses for allegedly trafficking multiple handguns from Indiana to Chicago.
BENJAMIN CORTEZ-GOMEZ, also known as “Bennie Blanco,” is charged with one count of dealing firearms without a license and one count of illegally possessing firearms as a convicted felon. GUSTAVO URIEL GOMEZ-HIPOLITO, also known as “Uriel Gomez,” is charged with one count of aiding and abetting Cortez-Gomez in the illegal possession of the firearms.
An indictment unsealed on Nov. 4, 2020, in U.S. District Court in Chicago accuses Cortez-Gomez of trafficking firearms over a four-month period earlier this year. The indictment further alleges that Cortez-Gomez illegally possessed seven handguns on July 27, 2020, with Gomez-Hipolito’s assistance. Cortez-Gomez purchased the seven guns in Indiana and transported them to Chicago, according to a criminal complaint filed against Cortez-Gomez earlier in the investigation.
Cortez-Gomez, 28, is currently detained in federal custody. A date for his arraignment has not yet been scheduled. Gomez-Hipolito, 24, pleaded not guilty and has been released on bond while awaiting trial.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Kristen deTineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Valuable assistance was provided by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles W. Mulaney represents the government.
The case was brought under Operation Legend, a Department of Justice initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement to fight violent crime. As part of Operation Legend, the Department of Justice significantly increased resources in Chicago to help state and local officials investigate and prosecute violent crime, particularly firearm-related offenses.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Dealing firearms without a license is punishable by up to five years in federal prison, while the illegal possession count is punishable by up to ten years. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.