Exaggerated allegations get gun dealer sprung early
WASHINGTON — The firearms dealer caught up in the Justice Department's Fast and Furious scandal has won an early release from prison because a federal judge ruled that prosecutors overcharged him in alleging he sold high-powered weapons to smugglers working for a violent drug cartel in Mexico.
Ian Garland, who ran a gun shop near El Paso was released on Friday at the end of a court hearing in Las Cruces, N.M., which showed that he was given a longer sentence because the court was misinformed that some of the weapons he sold were fully automatic machine guns, rather than rifles and pistols. He served half of his five-year sentence.
On Monday, Garland began serving a three-year probation.
In a series of telephone and email interviews, Garland said he plans to talk to the Mexican consulate in El Paso about how at least one of his firearms, a Draco semi-automatic pistol, was apparently used in a killing on the Mexican side of the border across from the town of Columbus, N.M. He said U.S. federal agents knew that weapon, and likely the other 192 he sold, were being smuggled into Mexico to arm a drug cartel.
Mexican government officials, Garland said, “want to know if I was told to keep selling the firearms. They want to know how long I was notified by the ATF and whether they were doing nothing about stopping the sales.”
Garland said agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives encouraged him to keep selling the weapons to a group of city officials in Columbus who were under investigation for smuggling the rifles and pistols to the cartels.
Agents in El Paso and New Mexico declined to discuss the matter.