Kent man sentenced to five years in prison for illegal gun possession

A 31-year-old Kent man was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison and three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of firearms.

Ajan Escudero was involved in illegal hunting in December near the Tahoma National Cemetery in unincorporated Kent that led to his arrest. This is the second conviction for possessing a gun illegally for Escudero, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office media release.

At the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez noted that Escudero's “love of guns overcomes everything in his life....  (He) has not learned that he can have nothing to do with weapons.”

According to records filed in the case, on Dec. 2, 2010, Escudero was detained by Washington State Fish and Wildlife officers following complaints of illegal hunting near Tahoma National Cemetery.

Escudero, and the two men with him, had five firearms between them. Three of the guns belonged to Escudero – a Colt pistol, DPMS Panther Arms .308 caliber rifle, and a Mossberg shotgun.

Escudero has two prior felony convictions and is prohibited from possessing firearms. When questioned, Escudero admitted that in October 2010, he had hunted illegally, shooting a bear after baiting it with donuts and garbage. He gave permission for the officers to search his residence for additional firearms.

Eight firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, as well as body armor and hats and badges from various King County law enforcement agencies were seized. One of the firearms had been reported stolen by a Thurston County pawn shop.

Ten years ago Escudero was prohibited from possessing firearms when he was convicted of dealing in counterfeit securities. In that case, he was convicted of selling counterfeit currency. While on probation for that conviction, Escudero was arrested with a gun in his backpack and was sent back to federal prison for a year for illegal gun possession.

In their request for a sentence at the high end of the range, prosecutors said Escudero's history shows he knew he was violating the law.

“Escudero clearly knew it was illegal for him to possess firearms and, equally importantly, that there were consequences for his doing so." prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo. "This is not a case in which the defendant could have been under any illusions about the illegality of his actions. Nevertheless, Escudero chose to again possess firearms.”

Escudero was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program. Unveiled in May 2001, PSN is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement. PSN is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and then providing them with the resources and tools they need to succeed.

Implementation at the local level - in this case, in King County - has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

The case was investigated by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hobbs. Hobbs is a Senior Deputy King County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute gun crimes in federal court.

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