BALTIMORE — U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasnaow sentenced Ricky Sanabria Jr., 27, of Salisbury to five years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for possession of stolen firearms.

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Rob Cekada of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Baltimore Field Division; Wicomico County Sheriff Michael A. Lewis; Dorchester County Sheriff James W. Phillips, Jr.; and Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan.

Dorchester Sheriff James Phillips said the initial investigation of the theft from The Gun Merchant — a licensed firearms dealer in Federalsburg — was handled by his agency.

According to Sanabria’s guilty plea, on June 10, 2017, he burglarized a firearms store in Federalsburg. Surveillance video shows Sanabria entered the store by cutting a hole into an exterior wall. He wore a hoodie and gloves, with a mask that partially covered his face. Sanabria stole 27 weapons from the Federalsburg firearms store and left the scene. Sanabria stole at least 30 weapons total.

Due to the number of firearms stolen, Phillips said the division of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms joined in the investigation. Sanabria was a known individual to the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, which also aided in the investigation, Phillip said.

Sanabria was not apprehended until July 16, 2017, when Nebraska state troopers arrested him for speeding on a highway in Lincoln County, Neb.. Sanabria initially evaded the troopers and abandoned his car, but the troopers found him in a park nearby and arrested him. They found one of the firearms stolen from the store in Federalsburg — a .40-caliber Glock handgun — directly in front of the driver seat under the floorboard of Sanabria’s car. Sanabria subsequently waived his rights and admitted he was driving the car. On recorded jail calls, Sanabria acknowledged the firearm was his and that he put the firearm in the car.

Two days later, Maryland investigators executed search warrants at two houses associated with Sanabria. At his home in Salisbury, investigators found a 20-gauge shotgun, which was stolen during a separate burglary in August 2016. At his parents’ home in Hebron, investigators found an antique weapon — a Colt black powder gun — that Sanabria stole from the Federalsburg gun store during the June 2017 burglary. Sanabria possessed both the shotgun and the antique weapon.

In addition, Sanabria’s DNA sample matched the DNA profile of blood left at the scene of another burglary of a firearms dealer in November 2016. During that burglary, Sanabria stole two firearms — a 9 mm Glock pistol and a .22-caliber Ruger pistol. Although investigators have found only one of those firearms, Sanabria possessed both firearms on the day they were stolen.

“This is an example of what an investigation can accomplish,” Phillips said, “when allied agencies work together.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.

Project Safe Neighborhoods is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Hur commended the ATF, the Wicomico and Dorchester County sheriff’s offices and the Salisbury Police Department for their work in the investigation, and thanked the Nebraska State Police for its assistance.

Hur also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Moore, who prosecuted the case.

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