A Southern California driver for United Parcel Service was arrested Friday, accused of stealing dozens of guns bound for a Turner's Outdoorsman store in Rancho Cucamonga.
Curtis Hays, 36, allegedly funneled 72 weapons, including 12-gauge shotguns and .45-caliber pistols, to an associate for sale on the region’s bustling black market for illegal firearms.
“This is an unusual case,” said Carlo A. DiCesare, a special assistant U.S. Attorney in Riverside who is prosecuting the case. “It was a large number of firearms that were stolen, and they were stolen from a reputable shipping company.”
Authorities learned of the scheme after Turner's Outdoorsman management alerted authorities to the missing shipments. The store typically receives UPS shipments from out-of-state gun manufacturers through the shipping company’s Ontario hub, according to authorities.
The 16-count indictment was filed July 23. It alleges Hays, of Rancho Cucamonga, stole a series of packages containing guns in 2012. The indictment also accuses him of stealing jewelry and mobile phones that were supposed to be delivered to other retailers.
Prosecutors have named Dennis Dell White, Jr., 35, of Moreno Valley, as Hays’ co-conspirator and middleman who is accused of selling the guns on the street or to other illegal gun dealers.
"Defendants Hays and White would meet in Rancho Cucamonga, California, at which defendant Hays would give the stolen firearms or other goods to defendant White," according to the indictment. Authorities say Hays no longer works for UPS.
“Certainly there is a huge market out there,” DiCesare said of illegal gun sales in Southern California. “What the full extent of it is – I don’t know if anyone knows.”
Hays and White are charged with conspiracy, six counts of theft of firearms, six counts of receipt and possession of stolen firearms and two counts of theft, receipt, and possession of goods in interstate commerce.
The indictment mentions two anonymous individuals involved in the deals as P.C. and L.C. They remain uncharged, according DiCesare.