This has got to be one of the grossest miscarriages of law enforcement that I’ve read about lately.
Rick and Terri Reese, along with their two sons Ryin and Remington ran a federally licensed gun shop in Deming, New Mexico. They kept meticulous records of all the firearms and ammunition they purchased and which were purchased by customers. They performed the required FBI background checks when necessary. Basically, they ran their gun shop by the letter of the law for 17 years.
Even much of their hired help was legal as the Reeses often hired law enforcement officers who were either retired or off duty, to work in the gun shop. This brought in a substantial amount of business with the law enforcement community and agencies.
In 2011, Terri noticed a customer that had purchased seven AK-47 pistols in one day. The customer, Penny Torres, told Terri that they were having a family reunion at a ranch in the area and that they all liked to shoot. Terri was suspicious of Torres story and being the law abiding gun dealer she is, she reported her suspicions to one of her friends that worked with the Luna County Sheriff’s Department. Terri told him that she suspected Torres might be a ‘straw buyer’ (someone who purchased guns for illegal purposes such as going over the Mexican border to the drug cartels, kind of like what the US government did with Operation Fast and Furious).
The Luna County Sheriff’s Department officer Terri reported to was someone she trusted and who she always turned to if they had any need for law enforcement. He told her that he would promptly report it to ATF and would let her know what happened with the case.
Torres was subsequently arrested, but ended up making a deal with the feds for leniency by implicating the Reese family as knowingly selling guns that were to illegally cross the border into Mexico. This launched an investigation by a recently formed federal agency known as Homeland Security Investigators (HSI), who set up a sting operation to entrap the Reeses.
HSI hired a confidential informant called Roman, who was seeking a reduced sentence for human trafficking and drugs smuggling. Roman agreed to go to the Reese’ gun shop, purchase weapons and drop hints that they would be heading across the border into Mexico but to do so in such a way as not to alarm them and cause them to refuse the sale. Roman was fitted with a wire to record everything that was said. HSI figured that if the Reeses sold the guns to Roman, that they could then arrest them on gun walking charges.
Shortly after Roman made his gun purchases, the feds swooped in to arrest all four members of the family. HSI and local law enforcement raided the gun store and the Reese home. They came in helicopters, armored vehicles and too many heavily protected and armed law enforcement officers to count. Not only were the four members of the Reese family arrested, but the feds confiscated every gun, all ammunition from both their store and their home, then they confiscated the home, cars, bank accounts, coin collections and virtually everything the family owned.
Each member of the family was eventually taken to a different jail or prison facility to be held without bail until their trials. The prosecution argued that they were flight risks or might even stage a Ruby Ridge type stand off because their home had a well and solar panels and they had found guns on the premises. Can you imagine that? They actually found guns and ammunition in the house and place of business of federally licensed gun dealers. It was also noted by the prosecution that Rick and Terry Reese were part of the local Tea Party, which must have made them look violent in the eyes of the prosecutor.
Six months after being arrested, Terri Reese was allowed to post bail, but the courts continued to withhold bail for the father and two sons. Continue reading here.