Gustavo Alvarez-Gomez, 23, a native of El Salvador, was convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm after a three-day trial that concluded Jan. 30.
Evidence presented during the trial established that on Feb. 25, 2019, Alvarez-Gomez and a
companion, Jordy Sanchez-Andrade, drove from St. Louis to Pleasant Ridge Park in
Fairview Heights, so they could smoke marijuana and shoot a handgun.
Both men entered the wooded hiking trails and fired off shots from a 9-mm pistol. A concerned citizen called police, and the Fairview Heights Police Department responded.
Both men were found and arrested in the wooded area of the park. The pistol was recovered nearby.
A subsequent investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigrations and Customs
Enforcement determined that both men had entered the United States illegally. Federal law
prohibits unlawful aliens from knowingly possessing a gun.
U.S. Attorney Steve Weinhoeft said, “Our illegal immigration enforcement efforts prioritize
identifying and aggressively prosecuting those who enter the United States illegally and commit
“It is beyond reckless to handle firearms while using drugs, but this crime is so much more offensive because these two individuals chose to do so at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, in a public park that was occupied by a mother and her two young children, ages 1 and 4,” Weinhoeft added.
An indictment was returned against the pair in April. Sanchez-Andrade, 22, pleaded guilty.
He is in ICE custody awaiting removal proceedings back to his native Honduras.
Alvarez-Gomez remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending his May 8
sentencing before U.S. District Chief Judge Nancy Rosenstengel. He could receive up to
10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. After his sentence has been served,
Alvarez-Gomez will be referred to immigration authorities for removal proceedings.
The Fairview Heights Police Department, Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case.