EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 16, 2009

Police: Man said 30,000 bullets were for target practice

He is held on $500,000 bail

By Paul Tennant

HAVERHILL — Keni Garcia told police he intended to use the 30,000 bullets they found in his car and home for target practice.

That is hard to believe, the prosecutor at Garcia's arraignment said, because if he were to fire a gun for eight hours a day, it would take weeks for him to use all of it.

Garcia, who allegedly bought thousands of rounds of ammunition and had 10,000 bullets in his car when he was stopped by police Thursday, was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail yesterday.

Attorney Socrates de la Cruz of Lawrence, who represented Garcia, 32, of 12 Freeman St., at his arraignment in Haverhill District Court, said he will appeal the high bail in Superior Court.

Garcia is charged with three counts of possession of a high-capacity firearm, illegal possession of ammunition and illegal storage of a firearm. His case was continued until June 12.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Holland asked Judge Patricia Dowling to impose $750,000 cash bail.

"He has no reason to stay here," Holland said.

The judge ordered Garcia to surrender his passport, and said that if he makes bail he is not to leave Massachusetts.

Garcia is a native of the Dominican Republic who was expected to become a U.S. citizen yesterday, but then he was arrested, authorities said.

Police arrested Garcia after he had left Interstate 495 at Exit 49 Thursday. They said they found 10,000 rounds of ammunition in his car. His two young daughters also were in the car, police said.

Holland said at Garcia's arraignment that a "joint effort" by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and state police found that Garcia had previously bought 20,000 rounds of ammunition in New Hampshire.

Garcia told police he only intended to use the bullets for target practice at a rifle range, Holland said, disputing Garcia's explanation. His common law wife, Elizabeth Reynoso, consented to a search and police found another 20,000 rounds, Holland said. They also found one .38-caliber and two 9 mm handguns, and $25,000 in cash, Holland said.

The prosecutor said all of the bullets seized from Garcia were for .38-caliber, 9 mm and .22-caliber firearms. Such ammunition is "like gold in the Dominican Republic," he said.

Holland said Reynoso told police he had "a shipping type of business" and that the $25,000 in cash must have come from Garcia cashing a business check.

"Where is the crime?" de la Cruz asked. The lawyer said Garcia had lived in New Hampshire for three years before recently moving to Haverhill.

"He bought the guns legally," de la Cruz said. "He never hid the fact that he had them."

Furthermore, de la Cruz said that when Garcia moved to Haverhill, he had a 60-day grace period to obtain a Massachusetts firearms card.

"There is no crime committed," he argued, saying there was no evidence that Garcia was shipping guns or ammunition to the Dominican Republic.

He asked the judge to allow his client "to go back to his job." He said Garcia has worked at a local bakery for three years.

Yesterday, Freeman Street residents interviewed by The Eagle-Tribune said they did not know anything about Garcia or guns and ammunition being stored at or shipped from his home.

Medline Abiles, of 43 Freeman St., who resides across the street from Garcia's house, said that in the two months she has lived in the neighborhood, she has not observed any weapons or ammunition and had no reason to be suspicious. Her sister, Carmen Reyes, who visits frequently, said she also had never noticed anything suspicious at the two-family house at 12 Freeman St.