Two men who used short-barreled rifles to kill three wild burros in the Mojave Desert in 2021 pleaded guilty to federal charges on Monday, prosecutors said.

As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to recommend probation instead of prison for the two, who face up to 10 years in prison for their weapons offenses alone.

Cameron John Feikema, 36, of Yorba Linda, and Christopher James Arnet, 32, of Loveland, Colorado, each pleaded guilty to one felony count of possession of an unregistered firearm and one misdemeanor count of maliciously causing the death of a donkey in a public lands an agreement with prosecutors, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Late on Nov. 5, 2021, the two men donned tactical gear, which included ballistic helmets with night vision goggles, and drove Arnet’s truck into the desert north of Yermo in San Bernardino County, court records show. They were armed with unregistered short-barreled rifles that prosecutors said were similar in style to assault rifles.

According to prosecutors, the men fired at least 13 shots together around 1 a.m., hitting and killing three wild donkeys.

“A donkey was shot near its spine toward its hind legs, paralyzing the donkey’s hind legs and causing the animal severe pain before it died,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote in a statement. The bullet removed from that donkey was fired from Arnet’s rifle, prosecutors said.

As part of their plea agreement with prosecutors, Feikema and Arnet agreed to hand over their rifles, more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition, night vision goggles and other tactical equipment, according to court documents.

Both men face a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for the firearms possession charge and up to one year in federal prison for the killing of the donkeys. However, as part of their plea agreements, prosecutors are expected to seek a probation sentence of no more than three years, home confinement and a fine of no more than $2,000 for each man, according to documents filed in court. Her sentencing is scheduled for July 8.

The killing of wild burros, which are protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, has been going on for years.

In the summer of 2019, at least 42 wild donkey carcasses with gunshot wounds were found in various states of decomposition along Interstate 15 between Baker, California, and Primm, Nevada.

Bureau of Land Management officials called it one of the largest killings of its kind on public lands managed by the agency. According to the authorities, the search for those responsible is still ongoing.

In January, BLM announced it was offering a $10,000 reward for information that could aid its investigation. The agency also identified two vehicles of interest in the killing of 19 donkeys whose carcasses were found on August 13, 2019, the agency said in a statement press release at this time.

Authorities have asked anyone with information about the crime to call (909) 987-5005.

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