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Court rules man served enough time in federal case

In a case with implications for Texas residents in proximity to the Mexican border, a former weapons dealer who was sentenced to prison for selling guns to be smuggled into Mexico has been given a reduced sentence. The man was first ordered to serve five years in federal prison, but the court later determined that his time had been incorrectly figured. The new sentence was set at slightly more than three years in prison, and he was released to a halfway house.

In 2011, the man entered a guilty plea to conspiracy and giving false information to authorities. Prosecutors claimed that he sold almost 200 guns to members of a smuggling ring and added that the weapons later turned up at crime scenes in Mexico. Other people suspected in the group of gun smugglers reportedly included a former mayor, a former police chief and a former trustee in Columbus, a town about an hour outside of El Paso.

The alleged gun dealer was taken into custody in March 2011 and has been held since then. His reduced three-year sentence will be for seven separate counts, but the judge ordered that the sentences be served concurrently. Despite entering a guilty plea, he argued that he was selling them to legal buyers, such as the former mayor and police chief, with proper paperwork. Ten other people were named in the indictment by the federal grand jury.

When an accused individual is sentenced in a federal case, mandatory sentencing laws could result in a lengthy prison sentence. A criminal defense attorney might be able to help clients by reducing the amount of time they serve in prison even after they have been sentenced.

Source: Houston Chronicle , "Former New Mexico gun dealer gets reduced sentence", January 07, 2014

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