Arrest Made in Bakersfield Firearms Trafficking Investigation Involving Over 100 Guns Found at Crime Scenes

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Joshua Ruic Kimball, 40, of Bakersfield, was arrested today on a criminal complaint for unlawful trafficking of firearms controlled by the National Firearms Act and for unlawful trafficking of firearms in violation of state law, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

The criminal complaint was unsealed following the arrest. Kimball is scheduled to make an initial appearance on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher D. Baker in Bakersfield.

“Under the guise of operating a legal firearms shop, Kimball was selling firearms in bulk without recording transactions through the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] or complying with state background check or waiting period requirements,” U.S. Attorney Talbert said. “Over 100 firearms traced to his operation have been recovered at crime scenes throughout the district, California and other states. Our office is grateful for the strong federal, state and local partnerships that made this investigation successful.”

“There is no higher priority than protecting our communities from firearms violence,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Cicolani of the ATF. “Crime gun intelligence was a key factor in being able to identity the firearms dealer in this investigation, and we will continue in our collaborative efforts with the Central Valley Crime Gun Task Force to strategically target and identify illegal firearms sales, trafficking patterns and sources of crime guns.”

“The results of Operation Last Member are not only impressive, but they highlight the profound impact of combating illegal and indiscriminate sales of firearms to criminals,” Fresno Police Department Chief Paco Balderamma said. “The recovery of at least 102 firearms used in crimes from a single source in the western United States is a significant achievement. These guns will no longer pose a threat to our community, and the individual responsible for their distribution will be held accountable. I commend the Central Valley Crime Gun Task Force, a collaboration between the Fresno Police Department and the ATF, for successfully conducting this large-scale and complex investigation. I am also very appreciative of the work by our U.S. Attorney’s Office for taking this case on and prosecuting it at the federal level. I look forward to future investigations by this task force which will work closely with our federal partners to eradicate illegally purchased firearms from the hands of criminals. This type of proactive enforcement will undoubtedly enhance the safety of our community, making it a better place to live.”

According to court documents, the investigation began when law enforcement began discovering firearms traced to Kimball that had been seized in connection with crimes. Over 100 such firearms have been traced to Kimball since 2021. Undercover agents then contacted Kimball at his place of business, Show Off Sports LLC, at which point Kimball sold undercover agents multiple weapons, including a short-barreled rife and several silencers. All of the weapons were sold without background checks or documentation as required by law.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert L. Veneman-Hughes and Stephanie M. Stokman are prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Kimball faces a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for trafficking in firearms; 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for unlawfully trafficking in controlled firearms; and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for unlawfully trafficking in firearms in violation of state law. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.

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