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Reese Family Under Attack

Category: The Knox Update
Published Date
Written by Jeff Knox

A Disturbing Case in New Mexico

Guilty or not, this is too much

                A family of four – Rick Reese, his wife Terri, and their two sons, Ryin - 24 and Remington - 19 – was arrested in Las Cruces, New Mexico on August 30, 2011.  They have been held in four separate county and federal detention facilities without bond ever since.  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.  The Reeses insist that they are innocent of any crime.

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 numerous federal, 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.  US 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 which 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 from whatever assets might be left.

In a prepared statement to the press US Attorney Gonzales stated: “This case serves to put firearms dealers on notice that they will be held accountable for any failure to comply with federal firearms laws.” 

I have no real problem with that statement except that I strongly disagree with many federal firearms laws, but until we can get those changed, licensed dealers are obligated to comply with them.  What’s more, dealers, particularly dealers in southern border states, have been well aware of heightened scrutiny and enforcement for the past several years.  It is almost inconceivable that any dealer, particularly a successful and prosperous one like Rick Reese, would jeopardize their life and livelihood for the sake of a few ill-gotten dollars.  What bothers me most though, is the heavy handed treatment of the Reese’s, the judges refusal to establish bond for them, and something else that US Attorney Gonzales said: “Those who sell firearms knowing that they will be illegally smuggled into Mexico to arm Mexican Cartels share responsibility for the violence that has been devastating Mexico.”

While the Reese family sits in their various jail cells accused of should have known, it should be pointed out that in Operation Fast & Furious, the ATF and DOJ, along with the US Attorney for Arizona, twisted dealers arms to get them to sell over 2000 guns to traffickers for Mexican drug gangs.  They did this with every intention of allowing the un-monitored guns to reach the bad guys and only tracked them by the crime scenes where they quickly began to show up.  The program was only stopped when two of those guns turned up at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder. 

My question for US Attorney Gonzales is; when are those responsible for Fast & Furious going to be arrested and tried for their contributions to “the violence that has been devastating Mexico?”

Something else to consider when looking at the Reese case is that convicted straw purchasers are typically sentenced to less than one year in prison – if they are prosecuted at all.  Prosecutors generally require that straw purchasers have records of purchasing high numbers of guns and that some of those guns can subsequently tied to violent crimes.  Such standards make the aggressive treatment of the Reese family, all of whom have spotless records in their business and their personal lives, look even more excessive. 

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.  I also know that they are facing well over $100,000 in just basic legal costs.  If Rick and Terri and the boys are eventually exonerated, they will walk away with probably $200,000 in legal bills and damaged, depreciated inventory – if they can recover it.  Courts are notoriously loath to return guns under any circumstances and even less inclined to return ammunition.  Rick’s plans to close the shop at the end of the year and run for Sheriff are crushed.  His son Ryin’s plans to open a new shop in Las Cruces with a lot of his father’s remaining inventory are also destroyed.

Regardless of the Reese’s guilt or innocence, this case raises serious questions about the equity of our legal system, the show-boat tactics of some federal law enforcement agencies, and the complexity of our nation’s gun laws.  Crimes should be punished, but more importantly, justice should be served.  That doesn’t seem to be happening in this case.  I’m going to keep monitoring this one.

Financial support for the Reeses can be sent to the following:
ATTENTION: Patricia Arias
520 South Gold
Deming,NM  88030

Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit and link is included.    Text is available at    To receive The Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Knox Hard Corps Report, write to PO Box 1761, Buckeye, AZ  85326.  

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