It looks like WorldNetDaily has found its latest dubious poster child it must whitewash for public consumption.
Jeff Knox devotes his Dec. 8 column to the case of the "heavy-handed" treatment by authorities of Rick Reese, his wife Terri, and their two sons, Ryin and Remington:
Their alleged crime is that, over the course of several months, they sold between 15 and 30 guns to people they "knew, or should have known" were gun traffickers for Mexican drug gangs.
Shortly after they were arrested in Las Cruces, dozens of police vehicles, including four armored personnel carriers and two helicopters, full of armed officers and agents from an alphabet soup of state and local law enforcement agencies, swarmed over the Reese's home and businesses. The entire firearm and ammunition inventory was taken from Rick Reese's store, as well as his entire personal collection of firearms and all cash and valuables from his home safe. Even the 30 to 40 empty gun safes that were on display at the store were seized.
U.S. Attorney Ken Gonzales indicated that he is going to seek asset forfeiture of the Reese's home and 25-acre property (including the shooting range on the property that he leased to various law enforcement agencies), all of the cash and valuables seized, their vehicles and a monetary judgment of at least $36,000 of whatever assets might be left.
Something else to consider is that someone actively engaging in illegal straw purchases of multiple guns is typically sentenced to less than one year in prison and is generally not even prosecuted unless they've made such illegal purchases of at least a dozen guns and at least one of them has shown up at the scene of a serious crime.
With that being the case, why has the Reese family, all of whom have spotless records in their business and their personal lives, been held without bail for over three months and had virtually everything they own seized by government agents?
Rick Reese was planning to retire at the end of the year. His son Ryin was in the process of opening a gun shop of his own in Las Cruces, and Rick was planning to help Ryin get started by letting him liquidate the inventory from Rick's store.
In a dark twist to this already-dark case, Rick, who has been very outspoken and politically active, was planning to challenge the current sheriff for the office of Luna County sheriff next year, and his intention to do so was widely known. There have been some indications that this investigation might have started in the Luna County Sheriff's office. If those rumors prove true, it raises all sorts of questions that need answers.
I don't know the Reeses and really have no idea whether they knowingly broke the law. I do know that they had a reputation for being responsible citizens and that they have insisted that they are innocent and will not plea bargain.
In fact, the Reeses are accused of doing a lot more than sell guns to people they "knew, or should have known" were gun traffickers for Mexican drug gangs. The 30-count indictment against the Reeses cover firearms smuggling and money laundering. Here's how the U.S. Attorney's office explained it:
The indictment generally alleges that, between April 2010 and July 2011, the defendants conspired to make false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms and to illegally export firearms to Mexico. It also charges the defendants with conspiring unlawfully to launder proceeds from the sales of firearms and ammunition illegally exported from the United States to Mexico. The indictment seeks forfeiture of the firearms and ammunition involved in the defendants’ alleged unlawful activities, the proceeds of their alleged unlawful activities, the real property on which New Deal is located, New Deal’s assets and licenses, and a money judgment in the amount of $36,000.
According to the indictment, in July and August 2010, Ryin Reese sold 18 firearms to an individual who arranged to smuggle the firearms into Mexico where they were transferred into the hands of Mexican Cartel members. Ryin Reese allegedly assisted a straw purchaser in completing ATF firearms transaction records in which the straw purchaser falsely represented that s/he was the actual purchaser of the firearms. On August 28, 2010, after receiving a notice from law enforcement that a firearm sold by New Deal had been recovered, Terri Reese allegedly told the straw purchaser about the notice and expressed concern that her phones were being monitored by law enforcement.
The indictment further alleges that, on six occasions between April 20, 2011 and July 29, 2011, the defendants sold an aggregate of 16 firearms and more than 7,000 rounds of ammunition to a confidential informant and undercover agents with the understanding that the informant and agents intended to illegally smuggle the firearms and ammunition into Mexico. The defendants allegedly removed the ammunition from its original packaging and repackaged the ammunition in black canvas bags to conceal it from law enforcement. The defendants also allegedly assisted the confidential informant and undercover agents in completing ATF firearms transaction records in which the informant and agents falsely represented that they were the actual purchasers of the firearms.
According to the indictment, the firearms sold by the defendants included 27 AK-47 type rifles, three AR-15 rifles, two .50 caliber rifles, and two 9 mm pistols, weapons allegedly favored by Mexican Cartels.
Not only did Knox understate the charges against the Reeses, he also understated the number of weapons involved and omitted thte thousands of rounds of ammunition that were also sold.
Knox then tries to further minimize the Reese case by invoking the Fast and Furious controversy, asking "when are those responsible for dumping 2,000+ guns into the criminal market going to be arrested and held accountable for their contributions to 'the violence that has been devastating Mexico?'"