Prison for sale of guns to ‘cartel’
A Grand Junction businessman will go to prison after his sentencing in connection with selling firearms, including semiautomatic rifles, to an undercover agent who told him he would take the arsenal to drug cartels in Mexico.
Miguel Reyes-Robles delivered the weapons to his undercover customer at his store, R&R Discount Car Audio, 752 North Ave., which is within a quarter mile of Grand Junction High School, according to court papers.
Reyes-Robles is to serve a 30-month sentence in federal prison after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors. Judge R. Brooke Jackson sentenced him Tuesday in Denver and Reyes-Robles remains free pending an order that he report to a yet-to-be-identified federal prison.
The activities alleged in the case “are so out of character” for Reyes-Robles, said Steve Laiche, his Grand Junction defense attorney. “He’s not anywhere as bad as the government made him seem.”
Agents from three federal agencies, along with Grand Junction police and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, participated in the investigation, which began in May 2011, when authorities received information that Reyes-Robles was selling firearms and explosives from the business.
Reyes-Robles met on May 25, 2011, with a man identified to him as “Tono” but who was actually Homeland Security Investigations undercover agent Auturo Curiel, who told him the guns the agent planned to buy would be taken to Mexico for use by drug-cartel members.
The agent told Reyes-Robles he was in the market for firearms, grenades, high-grade night-vision optical devices and other contraband.
Reyes-Robles claimed to have recently sold three or four grenades and a grenade launcher, as well as high-powered firearms, according to his plea agreement, which contained English translations of conversations that were conducted in Spanish.
At one point in an early meeting, Reyes-Robles told the agent, “I sell good brands and all of the guns are well taken care of. The good thing about these two is that they’re clean,” meaning that they wouldn’t have to be registered.
When the agent agreed to the sale, Reyes-Robles “wiped the firearms of possible fingerprints to prevent the police from tracing any prints to him. The firearms were then wrapped into cloth towels and other material to prevent them from being seen,” the agreement said.
In his conversations with the agent, Reyes-Robles bragged of being a cocaine trafficker and commented on a new tunnel across the border in Nogales, the agreement said.
“At no time did the defendant voice concern that the guns would be smuggled to Mexico and used by drug cartels,” the plea agreement said. “In fact, the defendant showed a firearm to ‘Tono,’ which he represented as a type ‘used a lot in Mexico. They carry these over there,’” the agreement said.
Curiel bought two semiautomatic rifles and a pistol shortly after the initial meeting, and in another purchase on Feb. 26, 2012, bought four guns, each with a detachable high-capacity magazine for $5,000.
At one point, Reyes-Robles apparently threatened the agent with a silver-and-gold handgun pulled from the waistband of his pants, the agreement said.
The agent saw numerous additional firearms, including at least two AR-15s in boxes and one with a double-drum high capacity magazine capable of holding 150 rounds, the papers said.
Reyes-Robles was arrested Feb. 26, 2012, after a meeting with the undercover agent. A search of his home turned up $7,200 in cash believed to be from the sales.
Reyes-Robles is a naturalized citizen and a family man, Laiche said, noting that the judge’s decision to allow Reyes-Robles to remain free until prison space is available demonstrates that Reyes-Robles “is not that bad a risk.”