deming nm


V.21 No.32 | 8/9/2012
brian.ch / [url ]http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Feature

Deming Gun Trial Ends but Larger Closure Remains Elusive

Less than a day after we went to press with this week’s feature profiling the Reese family of Deming and their trial for conspiracy, false statements and gun smuggling, the jury returned with a verdict.

Three of the family members were found guilty of making false statements on federal ATF forms. U.S. government prosecutors insisted throughout the trial that the Reeses knowingly sold weapons to so-called straw buyers, or middlemen, who were purchasing guns on behalf of dangerous Mexican drug cartels. Apparently the jury agreed, to a limited extent.

Yet with the possible exception of 20-year-old Remington (acquitted of all charges), it’s still hard to find the clear winner in this case.

The Reeses’ lives will certainly never be the same. Three of them are now convicted felons facing more jail time. While they may be able to petition for the restoration of their gun ownership rights, I doubt the ATF (which launched the undercover investigation of the family) will let them return to their longtime livelihoods of gun dealing.

The agency itself has been raked over the coals for losing track of guns that were purchased out of Arizona by known “straw buyers,” or middlemen. Many of those guns were subsequently trafficked into Mexico and used to deadly effect.

And the trial opened on the heels of a successful (and largely partisan) effort to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over Operation Fast and Furious. Supporters of the family that I spoke to outside of the courtroom were convinced that the U.S. government was trying to use the case to deflect attention away from their own malfeasance.

Meanwhile, violent bloodletting in Mexico (not to mention here in the U.S.) continues unabated.

V.21 No.31 | 8/2/2012
Margaret Wright

news

Jury Returns Verdict in Deming Gun Store Trial

This week’s feature delves into the trial of the Reese family of Deming, N.M.

Their arrest last year on charges of aiding and abetting gun smugglers added more fuel to the partisan firestorm over border security, gun control, and governmental measures (à la Operation Fast and Furious) to stem the flow of weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

Around 4 p.m. this afternoon, the jury handed down their verdict.

Rick Reese, patriarch of the family, and his wife Terri were both convicted on one felony count each of false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms. Ryin, 25, was convicted of two counts. Remington, 20, was fully acquitted. He was released from custody along with Terri, who is out on bond, said her attorney Brad Hall.

Each false statement conviction could carry a sentence of up to 5 years in federal prison.

Hall said via phone interview that the defense team’s reactions to the verdict were mixed.

“We're happy that the vast majority of the charges were rejected by the jury,” he stated, “but I’m disappointed that Terri was found guilty of anything.”

The family was arrested last August and charged with a total of 28 counts of conspiracy, false statements, gun smuggling and money laundering. Prosecutors argued throughout the case that the family knowingly sold guns to so-called “straw buyers” who were getting weapons on behalf of violent Mexican drug cartel members.

The Reeses’ team of defense attorneys countered that the family had “no criminal intent” whatsoever. Their attorneys also fought to portray the key witness for the prosecution as a self-serving criminal.

The day they were arrested, federal agents seized the Reeses’ Deming property: 85 acres of real estate; cash, bank accounts and coins; and the entire inventory of their New Deal gun store. All of the property was subject to forfeiture to the U.S. government.

The initial indictment in the case says that the false statements convictions will mean the forfeiture of “any firearms and ammunition involved in the commission of the offenses.”

Hall said that “further legal analysis” will be required to determine the final extent of that forfeiture.