Friday, May 25, 2012



Note: govt. officials at work once again. Have to wonder if the
feds in F&F will ever be held responsible?

Chaparral gun-store owner headed to prison
By Diana Alba Soular \ Las Cruces Sun-News
Posted: 05/25/2012 12:31:48 AM MDT

LAS CRUCES -- Despite an emotional appeal by the Chaparral gun-store
owner who admitted selling nearly 200 weapons in a gun-smuggling
operation, a federal judge on Thursday sentenced Ian Garland to five
years in prison.
Garland, 52, is the third of more than a dozen defendants in the case
to be sentenced. He faced up to 35 years in prison for the seven
charges against him.
Garland admitted guilt last July in a plea deal, which shaved off an
additional charge of gun trafficking that carried a possible 10-year
Before the sentenced was imposed, Garland addressed U.S. District
Judge Robert Brack and said he admitted responsibility for his
"actions and inactions." But Garland maintained he wasn't aware that
village of Columbus officials, including former Mayor Eddie Espinoza
and ex-Police Chief Angelo Vega, were shuffling weapons he sold to
them to Mexico. He said he put stock in the fact that they were
public authorities.
"I do have a certain amount of trust in officials," he said. "It
wasn't just someone coming up out of the blue."
Garland also cast some blame on federal gun agents for being unclear
about how they wanted him to proceed after approaching him about
suspicious clientele during the month before his arrest.
Garland told Brack that he was worried for his family and that he
entered into the plea deal because "I thought that was the best way
to go home."
Federal officials alleged that Garland supplied about 200 firearms
favored by Mexican drug
cartels to officials of the village of Columbus, including former
Trustee Blas "Woody" Gutierrez, and straw purchasers between July
2010 and February 2011. Some of the weapons were allegedly found at
the scenes of a homicide, a kidnapping and a drug bust in Mexican
border towns.
Brack, after 20 minutes of deliberation, returned to the courtroom
and said he'd been "struggling" with the decision. He said he thought
Garland was "otherwise kindhearted and perhaps gullible." But Brack
said he couldn't overlook evidence that Garland had sold weapons to
stand-in buyers, who Garland knew would deliver them to Gutierrez.
Brack told Garland the weapons in the case were "fuel" for an
"ongoing war in Mexico" --Êsomething he couldn't ignore in the
"Ultimately, what made the decision for me was this terrible supply
chain that had you as a critical link," Brack said.
Garland's attorney, Francisco Mario Ortiz of Las Cruces, attempted to
play down his client's involvement and said Garland wasn't in the
thick of the conspiracy and didn't know what the Columbus officials
were doing with the guns.
The best argument prosecutors had was that Garland "should have known
something," Ortiz said.
Still, federal prosecutor Nathan Lichvarcik pointed out that Garland,
in his plea, admitted assisting straw purchasers of weapons.
Lichvarcik said Garland was "kind of a choke point for this whole
conspiracy" and "not just a peripheral player."
"He was essentially a bottomless fountain of firearms for this
conspiracy," he said. "They would drive two and a half hours from
Columbus because they'd found a dealer willing to sell them guns," he
Columbus is about 25 miles south of Deming on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Chaparral is on the Doña Ana County-Otero County line, just north of
El Paso.

Diana Alba Soular can be reached at;
575-541-5443; follow her on Twitter @AlbaSoular

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