San Bernardino Conspirator Pleads Guilty - Palm Springs News, Weather, Traffic, Breaking News

San Bernardino Conspirator Pleads Guilty

San Bernardino Conspirator Pleads Guilty

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RIVERSIDE, California – Enrique Marquez Jr. – a longtime friend of Syed Rizwan Farook, the male shooter in the San Bernardino terrorist attack – has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to provide material support to terrorists.

Marquez, 25, of Riverside, entered into a plea agreement that was filed today in United States District Court. The defendant is scheduled to enter his guilty pleas Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m. before United States District Judge Jesus Bernal.

In the plea agreement, Marquez agreed to plead guilty to providing material support and resources to terrorists, including weapons, explosives and personnel. Marquez admitted in the plea agreement that he conspired with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to attack Riverside City College (RCC) and commuter traffic on the 91 Freeway.

Marquez also agreed to plead guilty to making false statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm for being the “straw buyer” of two assault rifles that were used in the shooting rampage at the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center (IRC) on December 2, 2015.

“This defendant collaborated with and purchased weapons for a man who carried out the devastating December 2, 2015 terrorist attack that took the lives of 14 innocent people, wounded nearly two dozen, and impacted our entire nation,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “While his earlier plans to attack a school and a freeway were not executed, the planning clearly laid the foundation for the 2015 attack on the Inland Regional Center. When this defendant pleads guilty, all four individuals charged, including three of the shooters’ family members, will be convicted. Everyone in the U.S. Attorney’s Office – and everyone across the Department of Justice and the broader law enforcement community – brought their expertise, dedication, and tireless effort to bear on this investigation. We are, and will continue to be, deeply committed to pursuing the prosecution of everyone who was even remotely related to the San Bernardino attack. As these criminal cases begin to resolve, we hope that the victims of the attack and the community of San Bernardino are comforted in some small way by the knowledge that the Department of Justice and the law enforcement community stands with them in this investigation, resolute and committed to justice.”

“With this plea, Enrique Marquez Jr. will be held accountable for his role in plotting terrorist attacks on American soil with Sayed Rizwan Farook in 2011 and 2012, attacks which were, fortunately, not carried out,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord. “Marquez also admitted to making a false statement as part of his straw purchases of weapons for Farook – weapons that were eventually used to carry out the deadly terrorist attack in San Bernardino. Holding those who threaten our national security and public safety accountable will always be the highest priority of the National Security Division and I want to thank all of the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this result.”

Marquez was arrested about two weeks after the attack at the IRC, which was perpetrated by Farook, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who were killed in a shootout with law enforcement hours after the attack. 

The investigation into the deadly shooting quickly uncovered evidence that, in 2011 and 2012, Marquez purchased two rifles that Farook and Malik later used in the attack that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at the IRC. A law enforcement officer was wounded during the shootout that afternoon.

According to the plea agreement, Farook paid Marquez for the rifles. Marquez also discussed with Farook the use of radio-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during the planned attacks on the RCC and State Route 91. Marquez purchased Christmas tree lightbulbs and a container of smokeless powder for use in manufacturing IEDs.

“Defendant Marquez purchased two of the weapons used in the San Bernardino terror attack to murder 14 innocent people and seriously injure 22 others – a horrific act which led to great suffering and a lifetime of pain for the survivors and for the loved ones of those murdered,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. “Defendant Marquez provided these weapons to his associate, Syed Rizwan Farook, with whom he conspired to plot chilling terror attacks. I’m gratified that this guilty plea will spare the victims and the San Bernardino community from having to relive the gruesome details of the attack during what would likely be a lengthy trial.”

Once he pleads guilty, Marquez will face a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison.

Marquez, who did not personally participate in the attack on the IRC, has remained in custody since he was ordered detained at his initial court appearance in this case on December 17, 2015.

The plea agreement filed today is the result of an investigation by several members of the Inland Empire Joint Terrorism Task Force, including agents and detectives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the San Bernardino Police Department; the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department; the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office; the Chino Police Department; the Redlands Police Department; the Ontario Police Department; the Corona Police Department; and the Riverside Police Department.

“Straw purchasers are criminals who are the beginning of the chain of violence in our country,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Eric D. Harden. “It is purchases like Marquez’s that led to the terror on that tragic day in San Bernardino. The crime goes beyond making a false statement on a government form. It puts guns in the hands of criminals who will victimize the community. In this case, the straw purchase is as reprehensible as the attack.    

“This guilty plea will bring much needed closure to a case that devastated those victims and families associated with the senseless attack on December 2, 2015, an attack that also deeply impacted our community,” said San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan. “This case a perfect example of local and federal authorities working together with a common purpose for the sake of the victims.”

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon stated: “December 2nd will forever haunt the memories of the victims’ families and the survivors who have lived through the tragedy. I pray today's guilty plea brings all of us a bit of justice.”

Also as a result of the investigation into the IRC attack, three people have pleaded guilty to being part of a sham marriage scheme in which a Russian woman “married” Marquez to obtain immigration benefits.

Syed Raheel Farook, the brother of IRC attacker Syed Rizwan Farook; Tatiana Farook, who is Syed Raheel Farook’s wife; and Mariya Chernykh, who is Tatiana Farook’s sister, pleaded guilty earlier this year to immigration fraud charges and admitted being part of conspiracy in which Chernykh paid Marquez to enter into a bogus marriage.

The case against Marquez and the immigration fraud case are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jay H. Robinson, Melanie Sartoris and Deirdre Z. Eliot of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section. Trial Attorney C. Alexandria Bogle of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section provided substantial assistance.

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