Wednesday, December 12, 2012

AZMEX F&F EXTRA 12-12-12


Note: Yet another in series of very light sentences.

Figure in Fast and Furious gun buyer sentenced
Source: United States News
Originally published: Dec 12, 2012 - 10:13 am
Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) - A man who purchased two rifles found at the scene of
the fatal shooting of a federal agent north of the Arizona-Mexico
border has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison.

Jaime Avila Jr. on Wednesday received the maximum sentence of 57
months based on federal guidelines.

Avila's attorney had pleaded for leniency, saying her client was
deeply remorseful and had substance abuse problems.

Federal prosecutors had asked for the maximum penalty, saying Avila
not only bought guns for drug cartels but also recruited others to do

The 25-year-old Avila was part of a ring targeted in a botched
federal investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious. Agents
lost track of hundreds of weapons, including two used in a shootout
that killed Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further
information. AP's earlier story is below.

A man who bought two rifles found at the scene of the fatal shooting
a federal agent north of the Arizona-Mexico border will be sentenced
Wednesday for his part in a gun smuggling ring targeted in the
botched investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious.

Jaime Avila Jr., 25, faces up to 10 years in prison for his
acknowledged role as a straw buyer for the ring that authorities say
bought guns and smuggled them into Mexico for use by the Sinaloa drug

Two AK-47 variants bought by Avila from a suburban Phoenix gun store
were found in the aftermath of a Dec. 14, 2010, shootout that
mortally wounded Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry near the Arizona
border city of Nogales. The firefight was between border agents and
five men who had sneaked into the country from Mexico for the purpose
of robbing marijuana smugglers.

Robert Heyer, Terry's cousin and leader of a foundation that bears
the agent's name, plans to speak on behalf of the Terry family at
Avila's sentencing and urged a judge in court records to impose the
maximum sentence.

"We believe Mr. Avila initiated a deadly domino effect when he
illegally bought those weapons and then delivered them to people who
would ultimately put them into the hands of Brian's killers," Heyer
said in the statement.

Avila isn't charged in Terry's death. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy
and dealing guns without a federal license.

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg also is scheduled on Wednesday to
sentence five other men who admitted serving as straw buyers for the

Federal authorities conducting the Fast and Furious investigation
have faced tough criticism for allowing suspected straw gun buyers
for the ring to walk away from gun shops in Arizona with weapons,
rather than arrest the suspects and seize the guns there.

The investigation was launched in 2009 to catch trafficking kingpins,
but agents lost track of about 1,400 of the more than 2,000 weapons.
Authorities say the ring was believed to have supplied the Sinaloa
cartel with guns. Some guns purchased by the ring were later found at
crime scenes in Mexico and the United States.

Mexico's drug cartels often seek out guns in the United States
because gun laws in Mexico are more restrictive than in the United

So far, 15 of the 20 people charged in the gun case pleaded guilty to
charges. Most of those who admitted guilt are straw buyers who said
they falsely claimed that guns they bought were for them, when they
were actually purchased for the ring. One of the ring's organizers
also has pleaded guilty.

Records show a Jan. 3 trial has been set for five other alleged ring
members, including a man accused of being a ring leader, two alleged
recruiters and a straw buyer who is accused of illegally buying 245

Authorities brought a separate case in federal court in Tucson
against five men charged with murder in Terry's death.

So far, one man has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. The plea
allowed Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, of El Fuerte in the Mexican state of
Sinaloa, to avoid the death penalty through his plea. He could face
life in prison when he's sentenced on March 1.

Authorities haven't said which member of the rip-off crew was
believed to have fired the fatal shot at Terry and have declined to
say whether the weapon used to kill the agent was linked to an
Operation Fast and Furious purchase.

Osorio-Arellanes told investigators he raised his weapon toward the
agents but didn't open fire.

Of the five men accused in Terry's killing, two are in custody. Three
others remain fugitives.

The FBI says it's actively pursuing the fugitives and has offered a
$250,000 reward for information leading to the capture of each of the
three men.

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