Tuesday, January 24, 2012

AZMEX F&F EXTRA 2 24-1-12


Note: not confirmed, but word has it light sentences once again. TBA.

First convictions from Fast and Furious gun probe
by Associated Press
(January 24th, 2012 @ 2:05pm

PHOENIX - Two men pleaded guilty to buying guns that were destined to
be smuggled into Mexico, the first convictions in the federal
government's botched Operation Fast and Furious.

The men were so-called ``straw buyers'' who acknowledged purchasing
guns that they knew were headed to Mexican drug gangs.

The goal of the federal government's investigation was to catch
weapons-trafficking kingpins, but firearms agents lost track of many
weapons they were trying to trace to smuggling ringleaders, and some
guns ended up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S.

Jacob Wayne Chambers and Jacob Anthony Montelongo each pleaded guilty
in federal court Monday to a conspiracy charge. Montelongo also
pleaded guilty to dealing guns without a license.

The pair admitted being part of a 20-person smuggling ring that is
accused of running guns into Mexico for use by the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Two rifles bought by the ring were found at the scene of a December
2010 shootout near the Arizona-Mexico border that mortally wounded
Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The two guns weren't purchased by
Chambers and Montelongo and instead were bought by another alleged
ring member.

The investigation is the focus of an inquiry by congressional

Several agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives have said they were ordered by superiors to let suspected
straw buyers walk away from Phoenix-area gun shops with AK-47s and
other weapons believed headed for Mexican drug cartels, rather than
arrest the buyers and seize the guns there.

The federal agency lost track of some 1,400 of the more than 2,000
weapons whose purchases attracted the suspicion of the Fast and
Furious investigators.

Chambers and Montelongo acknowledged buying the guns under the false
claim that the weapons were for themselves, when they were actually
being bought for organizers of the ring, and to knowing that the guns
were being smuggling into Mexico.

Chambers bought 79 guns from three licensed dealers in Arizona from
September 2009 to December 2009 and got paid $50 for each AK-47 and
$100 for a .50-caliber rifle.

Montelongo purchased 109 guns from eight dealers in Arizona from
January 2010 to July 2010. He was paid $50 for pistols, $100 for
rifles and $150 each for six .50-caliber rifles.

Each faces up to five years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
Their sentencing is set for May 21.

Baltazar Iniguez, an attorney for Montelongo, and Phil Noland, lawyer
for Jacob Wayne Chambers, didn't immediately return a call seeking
comment Tuesday.

Trial for the remaining alleged ring members is set for Sept. 25.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

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