LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico gun store owner accused of selling weapons to Mexican drug cartels testified Monday that he never took seriously comments from a customer-turned-informant who talked about taking guns and ammunition south of the border.
Rick Reese, owner of New Deal Shooting Sports in Deming, says the man was boisterous and bragging all the time, so he didn’t believe anything he said.
Reese, his wife, Terri, and their sons, Ryin and Remington, are on trial on charges that they sold assault rifles and ammunition to the informant and undercover federal agents.
Closing arguments in the case could come Tuesday afternoon.
The informant, Jose Roman, testified against the Reeses last week. Roman implicated the family after he was arrested in January 2011 on marijuana distribution charges.
Reese first took the stand Friday, saying he would have thrown Roman out of the store if he had thought Roman was serious when he talked about the arms going to Mexico to battle La Sinaloa drug cartel.
Under cross-examination, Reese admitted saying, “Even if I took a (military truck) full of ammo to Mexico, it wouldn’t help you guys.” Reese said he was talking hypothetically, saying no amount of ammunition would improve the situation in Mexico.
Reese also said he made a comment about hoping the guns go to Mexico and are used “to shoot federales.” He explained that a son’s friend had been killed in the Mexican border town of Palomas, and he “was hoping that the people victimized were able to defend themselves.”
Terri Reese testified later Monday that it wasn’t uncommon for Roman to bring customers into the store and give advice on what guns to buy. Her husband also had testified last week that it was not unusual for experienced buyers to help others negotiate transactions.
But prosecutors played some undercover videos aimed at showing that Terri Reeves knew that the guns Roman bought were for him and not the people he brought in.
Prosecutors claim the defendants sold 34 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition to the undercover agents and Roman, who acted as the negotiator for the agents.
Defense lawyers defense maintain the Reeses followed all legal procedures during the undercover sales and kept detailed records. Defense attorneys also noted that Terri Reese contacted law enforcement after a suspicious transaction in 2010.