Regional
7:46 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Family Accused Of Ignoring Duties In Gun Sales

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The case of a New Mexico family accused of selling weapons to Mexican cartels now is in the hands of a federal jury.

A 12-member jury in Las Cruces got the case late Tuesday afternoon.

In closing arguments, prosecutors say a family that owns a Deming-area gun store ignored their responsibilities by selling weapons and ammunition to a man who told them the arms were bound for Mexican drug cartels.

But a defense attorney says the Reese family was set up by a self-proclaimed cartel member who made a deal with federal prosecutors after being arrested on marijuana distribution charges.

A family that owns a Deming-area gun store ignored their responsibilities by selling weapons and ammunition to a man who told them the arms were bound for Mexican drug cartels, prosecutors said Tuesday in closing trial arguments.

Carrying a 30-pound, 29-inch Barrett .50-caliber rifle through the courtroom, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Jordan told jurors the federal gun-smuggling trial of the Reese family boils down to rights and responsibilities.

"The defendants have the right to make money selling guns ... but they have no right to arm cartels," Jordan said.

Defense attorney Robert Gorence, however, contended the family was set up by a self-proclaimed cartel member who made a deal with federal prosecutors after being arrested on marijuana distribution charges.

Gorence, who represents Rick Reese, said Jose Roman's turn to informant was not leading to raids on stash houses or cartel members.

"Instead, this Justice Department is targeting an American family," he said. "They want to go after an American family that's paying their taxes and raising their sons the best they can."

Jordan argued the family's responsibility was to refuse to sell to Roman, but the evidence shows they knowingly ignored it.

"They sold guns to straw purchasers and to a man who told them again and again he would take the guns to Mexico," Jordan said.

Gorence said prosecutors failed to prove the family had any knowledge the guns were going to Mexico.

During the trial, prosecutors played tapes of Roman talking in the store. In one of the recordings, he says, "This ammo is going to Mexico, and it's not coming back. And if it comes back it's going to be on some guy's body."

On Monday, Rick Reese, owner of New Deal Shooting Sports, told the court that Roman was a boisterous braggart and he never took him seriously.

Reese, 56, his wife, Terri, 49, and their sons, Ryin, 20, and Remington, 25, are all on trial. Prosecutors claim the defendants sold 16 firearms to people who then smuggled the guns to cartel members in Mexico in July and August of 2010. They are accused of selling 18 more guns to undercover agents and Roman.

Roman testified last week against the Reeses.

Defense lawyers have maintained the Reeses followed all legal procedures during the undercover sales and kept detailed records.

Federal authorities arrested the family last August, seizing more than 1,200 firearms and nearly 2 million rounds of ammunition from their shop.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.