Gun dealer tangled in 'Fast and Furious' free on probation

Man accused of gun smuggling speaks with ABC-7

EL PASO, Texas - A borderland gun dealer who admitted he sold nearly 200 guns to straw purchasers during the failed Operation Fast and Furious is out of prison and pointing a finger at the government.

After serving two and a half years in prison, Ian Garland is at a halfway house in El Paso.

In 2011, multiple agencies descended on the border town of Columbus, New Mexico, and arrested Garland along with his accomplices, which included the town's mayor and police chief.

The defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison. But an error in Garland's case prompted a review. In October, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Wormuth recommended Garland be re-sentenced. Prosecutors had asked he pay for crimes committed with "machine guns." However, it was determined the weapons Garland sold were not automatic, but semi-automatic.

"It was machine gun versus semi-automatic rifle," Garland said. "The (sentencing) enhancement was wrong.  These were legal and lawful firearms for the Unites States.  And they are from wholesalers.  Also they claim they used the wrong sentence and guideline book.  Which no lawyer I've spoken to has said it was a mistake.  It was outright malpractice.  Whatever you want to call it," he said.

Two months later, Garland was sentenced to three years probation only.

Garland, who pleaded guilty to illegally exporting merchandise plus six counts of assisting others with straw purchases of 193 firearms "with reason to know they were destined for Mexico," said he was entrapped.

ABC-7 asked if he was guilty of any crime. "Guilty for what?  Believing and trusting the ATF telling me to sell more?" said Garland. "Yeah, being so naive that there was nothing wrong.  I mean, the trace information is supposed to work.  And they delayed the trace information.  And that was proven in Congress by their own agents who testified against them."

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allowed about 2,000 to be sold to suspected gun smugglers at the height of Mexico's drug war. The goal was to trace the weapons to cartel leaders to help catch them. But, the ATF lost track of many weapons.  

"Apparently I'm supposed to be a clairvoyant with a fake Jamaican accent and know that a police chief and a mayor who were driving a police car to my business, filling out the forms, passing the background check were smugglers," the gun dealer said. 

The investigation into Fast and Furious is still ongoing.

In 2012, an Inspector General probe concluded Fast and Furious was misguided, but cleared the nation's top prosecutor, Eric Holder. Some in Congress still don't buy it.

The case is stuck in court with the White House and Congress are still at odds.

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