5 Arrested In Connection With LAPD SWAT Weapon Theft
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Los Angeles police say over two dozen weapons stolen from a SWAT training facility may have been sold to criminals on the black market despite the arrests of five suspects in the case.
According to police, two thieves made off with a total of 30 weapons — including submachine guns, assault rifles and handguns. The burglary occurred at the facility in downtown Los Angeles last month.
“It’s our understanding that their plan was to break into this warehouse for the purpose of stealing the electrical wiring,” said Capt. Andrew Smith of the LAPD.
Smith confirmed that search warrants led to the recovery of at least three of the weapons and yielded five arrests.
Richard Velasco, 29, and 41-year-old Gilbert Salcedo were booked for burglary while 24-year-old Gerardo Vasquez, 28-year-old William Vasquez and Mauricio Hernandez, 31, were arrested and booked for possession of an assault weapon.
“The guns are configured so that they shoot simunitions which are plastic marking bullets that people use for practice,” Smith said.
But with the right knowledge, they can be converted back into operational high-powered weapons.
“So anybody who is selling any of these or transferring wouldn’t be at a gun store, wouldn’t be at a legitimate shop. It would be something they would do on the street,” Smith added.
CBS2’s Rita Garcia reported at 11 p.m. that an internal investigation is currently under way since inert weapons, such as the ones taken, are usually kept in a safe, secure armory away from these types of facilities.