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Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Ex-con charged with selling stolen rifles
Cautious neighbor's photo of license plate helps police find 4th suspect

A fourth man, who has eight felony convictions and was in prison six months ago, was arrested Tuesday night in connection with the 17 firearms stolen from inside a gun collector's RV that was parked on Stock Island.

Amado Cardenas, 47, of 551 5th Ave., Stock Island, was caught illegally selling two stolen rifles to his neighbor between Saturday and Monday, according to a Sheriff's Office arrest report released Wednesday.

The neighbor told deputies he paid $50 for a Colt .45-caliber rifle and $100, via two payments, for the Bushmaster rifle. Both were presents for his dad.

"When he asked Amado why the guns were so inexpensive, Amado told him he was selling them for a friend who needed the money," Deputy David Cruz wrote in the latest report from the Sheriff's Office on the case.

State records show Cardenas was released from prison Oct. 10, having served a year for felony grand theft, and has prior convictions for burglary and theft that landed him behind bars.

Another Stock Island man and two teens from the mainland were jailed Monday on charges related to the stolen guns, which included two Bushmaster rifles with scopes.

One of the trio, Jermaine Roberts, 33, on Monday fingered Cardenas as the man who provided the firearms he is charged with selling from his home at Water's Edge Colony Trailer Park in the 5700 block of Laurel Avenue, deputies said.

"Jermaine said Amado had an AR-15 (rifle) and tried to get him to sell it," Cruz wrote in the latest report. "He admitted getting the firearms from Amado Cardenas and Cardenas had been taking numerous guns from the same location and was trying to sell them to him. Jermaine also said Amado had a laptop and television he was selling."

Roberts is also fresh out of Florida prison, having finished a sentence on March 10 for cocaine possession and battery.

Cardenas is charged with possession of two firearms by a convicted felon and dealing in stolen property.

Two other witnesses have identified Cardenas as dealing with rifles, including the neighbor/buyer, Miguel Nieto, 34, of Stock Island, who was tracked down by the license plate on his white van.

That photo came from a concerned passerby, who said he snapped the picture Saturday evening when he spotted a shirtless, heavily tattooed Hispanic man carrying something in a white towel in the parking lot of Salinero Enterprises, 5570 3rd Ave.

As the Hispanic man walked by him, the witness said the towel flipped open and he clearly saw a black handle and magazine of an assault-style rifle, deputies reported.

The witness said his father is an avid gun collector who taught him how to handle firearms of all types.

Sheriff's Office detectives were dispatched at 3:30 a.m. Monday just after the gun owner called in the burglary of armfuls of weapons, Sheriff Rick Ramsay said.

Within 24 hours, investigators had worked their informants and tracked down the first three suspects, along with most of the missing firearms.

Two handguns and the Chinese AK-47-copycat assault rifle were found inside the trunk of a white Nissan whose passengers included Andrew Riley, 19, of Cutler Bay, and Romanique Williams, 18, of Miami.

Riley and Williams were additionally charged with felony possession of heroin after deputies said the trunk also held 35 small plastic baggies of the brown powder, stashed in a DVD movie case that was inside a Timberland shoebox, reports said.

A Key West gun owner reported that burglars had cleaned out his RV parked at 6475 2nd St. on Stock Island, swiping 17 firearms that had been locked up in a cabinet along with a laptop computer and a flat-screen television.

The owner, unnamed in Sheriff's Office reports, is an "avid hunter" and gun collector who had last seen his guns on April 10, said Ramsay.

The sheriff described the cabinet used to store the weapons as having a "nothing lock" that anyone could crack and said that the case should serve as a warning to all gun owners.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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