Arrests Made in Stolen SWAT Weapons Case

Of the three stolen weapons retrieved, one was not listed as having been taken during the burglary.

By Ashley Gordon
|  Saturday, Oct 29, 2011  |  Updated 9:51 AM PDT
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Three guns stolen from a Special Weapons and Tactics training facility Oct. 13 were later found by LAPD detectives.

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Five suspects were arrested Friday in connection with the October burglary of 30 modified submachine guns and handguns from a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) training facility, LAPD confirmed.

The suspects -- Richard Velasco, 29; Gilbert Salcedo, 41; Gerardo Vasquez, 24; William Vasquez, 28; and Mauricio Hernandez, 31 – were booked at Metro Jail Station.

Due to significant leads during the investigation, police obtained search warrants for multiple locations, one of which led to the recovery of three of the stolen weapons, police said.

One of the retrieved guns was not listed as having been stolen during the burglary.

The 15 MP-5 submachine guns and 15 colt .45 handguns, originally inventoried as stolen, were modified to fire small plastic bullets. The modified weapons would need extensive modifications to be converted back to lethal use.

LAPD said it is conducting a physical inventory of all weapons assigned to Metropolitan Division to ensure all weapons are accounted for.

During the investigation, LAPD’s commercial crimes detectives concluded that the involved suspects initially targeted the downtown Los Angeles facility to steal the building’s electrical wiring.

The stolen weapons were originally placed in a locked box on Oct. 12 in the multi-story training facility on 14th and San Pedro streets in preparation for an upcoming training. They were noticed missing by a police officer the following day.

A series of doors were broken into and police reported that the burglars seemed to abandon the scene prematurely since electrical equipment was left stacked near a back door.

An internal investigation by the department’s Professional Standards Bureau into personnel issues that may have led to the break-in is ongoing.

Detectives are continuing their search for the outstanding weapons and ask that anyone with information contact Detective John Clark at 213-486-6940.

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