By: David Codrea
The case against a New Mexico gun dealer and his family, arrested in August, 2011, may not be what the government has led everyone to believe. Charges in a 30-count indictment for gun smuggling, money laundering and false statements looked bad against Rick Reese, his wife Terri, and sons Ryin and Remington, particularly as they resulted from a 7-month investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and ATF. Seized were their inventory, and through asset forfeiture, their home and properties, money, valuables, vehicles…
Bail was denied—it took Terri until March of this year to secure her release, while her husband and sons remain incarcerated. Of note, the court would not allow the family to be represented by one attorney, saying that would make it difficult for one family member to turn on the others. What this guaranteed was driving up legal costs for an impoverished defense, while the government’s resources were limitless.
But the Reese family did not break or turn on each other. They steadfastly maintained their innocence. And things that didn’t fit began to emerge, such as Rick Reese employing retired and off-duty officers in his store, his large law enforcement clientele, his leasing a shooting range to their agencies, and his plans to run for sheriff as, per a family spokesperson, a “Constitutionalist [who] wanted to restore integrity to the department.”
A hearing was held in June, where attorneys asked for conspiracy charges to be dismissed, and some interesting facts came to light shared by a family friend who took notes. For instance, we learned that the entire investigation began “when Terri Reese contacted the Luna County Sheriff’s Office to report suspicious activity—a person who might be a straw purchaser.”
We learned of incidents where it was a government agent using a phony ID and making false statements on the forms, not the ostensible straw purchaser, and that the FBI approved the sales. We learned the family talking out of earshot—so they could not possibly have been overheard—was used as evidence of “conspiracy.”
We learned that “the government did not produce any evidence of under the table cash sales.” Additionally, “the lead investigator admitted that all [sales tax and income taxes were] paid,” and “the government acknowledged that all guns…were logged in properly, and properly logged out on sale. Except for one, where a couple of numbers were erroneously transposed.”
We learned that “the government’s cooperating witness [a cartel drug smuggler who turned informant] spoke very poor English,” and as the Reese family did not speak Spanish, the government provided an undercover agent to coach the purchases. Further, statements made on tape alleged to have been made by the defendants were actually made by an agent, and the transcriber got the attribution wrong.
At this writing, jury selection is still a few weeks away and what they will ultimately decide is unknown. But it sure looks like these people aren’t getting a fair fight. And that should make us wonder what sort of fight the rest of us could expect were we to ever find ourselves under suspicion.