Selling Guns is Legal After All.....


March 19, 2009, 05:51 PM
A highly touted ATF case prosecuted in the media loses in the courts....

Judge tosses case against Phoenix gun-shop owner

74 comments by Dennis Wagner - Mar. 19, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

State prosecutors suffered a public setback in efforts to combat border violence Wednesday when a judge dismissed high-profile charges against a Phoenix gun dealer accused of arming Mexican cartels.

The case against George Iknadosian, owner of X-Caliber Guns, had been covered on national TV broadcasts and in stories by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

But in mid-trial, all 21 counts were dismissed by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield, who decided he had found a flaw in the government's case.

According to a minute entry, Gottsfield concluded that evidence against Iknadosian was not sufficient to support conviction based on a technical legal issue. Because the gun buyers all were eligible to acquire firearms, he said, their deception did not amount to a "material falsification." Consequently, Gottsfield ruled, the evidence did not show felonious conduct by Iknadosian.

Gottsfield issued a directed verdict of not guilty for Iknadosian, 47, who was charged with fraud, money-laundering and other offenses.

About 6,000 narcotics-related homicides were reported south of the border last year. Leading up to trial, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard portrayed Iknadosian as a greedy business owner who helped fuel Mexico's bloodshed by supplying more than 700 AK-47s and other weapons to cartels.

Late Wednesday, Anne Hilby, a spokeswoman for Goddard, issued a brief statement: "This office disagrees with the (judge's) analysis. We are already preparing an appeal, and we will continue to put the full strength of this office behind the case."

Iknadosian had pleaded not guilty. Neither he nor his attorney, Thomas Baker, was available Wednesday afternoon.

Iknadosian was accused of selling the firearms to "straw buyers," who then transported weapons to Mexico.

Gottsfield dismissed jurors and granted acquittal in response to a so-called Rule 20 motion sought by Baker. Under Arizona law, Rule 20 holds that a case must be thrown out if the state's evidence is inadequate for conviction.

"There is no proof whatsoever that any prohibited (firearm) possessor ended up with the firearms," he said.

The case was considered a landmark prosecution in part because of cooperation with Mexican authorities, who provided evidence that guns from X-Caliber were used in criminal operations south of the border.

The trial garnered even more attention because it began amid hearings on border violence at the Arizona Capitol and in Washington, D.C. Goddard and ATF agents depicted Iknadosian as among the most prominent U.S. gun dealers providing weapons to narcotics criminals. Working with Sonoran police, he traced guns from X-Caliber to Mexican murders and cartel figures.

About a dozen co-defendants pleaded guilty to felony charges before other judges. Gottsfield's ruling on Wednesday appears to question whether they committed the crimes for which they were convicted.

It is my understanding that a directed verdict can not be appealed and that the defendant is not guilty and therefore can not be tried again. If that is wrong then someone please correct me. If that is not wrong than what are they trying to do?

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March 19, 2009, 05:56 PM
ATF: Phoenix Gun Dealer Supplied Mexican Drug Cartels
Hundreds of Powerful Weapons Seized
May 6, 2008

X Caliber Guns
(Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms )
More Photos

Just hours after receiving a shipment of weapons allegedly intended for Mexican drug bosses, a Phoenix gun dealer and at least two alleged arms traffickers were arrested this morning in a series of raids by federal and local authorities. Authorities allege the gun dealer sold more than 650 AK-47-type assault weapons to Mexican drug gangs responsible for recent shootouts that have claimed dozens of lives.

"He knowingly, willingly sold these weapons, and he even gave our guys undercover tips on how to evade the police," Pete Forcelli, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms supervisor on the case told ABC News. The gun dealer, George Iknadosian, 46, was arrested on numerous Arizona state charges, and all of the inventory in his shop was seized.

"We know of 650 assault weapons he sold," said Forcelli, a former New York Police Department Bronx homicide detective. "But by the time the case is done, it will be well over a thousand."

Authorities in Phoenix, Ariz., told ABC News the raids are part of a continued effort to curb the supply of high-quality weapons from the U.S. to Mexico.

"Let's be very clear here -- there's a war going on in Mexico right now, and innocent people are being caught in the crossfire, not to mention the hundreds of police officers being murdered," said Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' Bill Newell, the special agent in charge of the Phoenix office. "When 90 percent-plus of the firearms recovered from these violent drug cartels are from a U.S. source, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to stem the illegal flow of these firearms to these thugs."

Those firearms -- including high-powered assault rifles and "cop killer" handguns -- are often bought through "straw purchasers" from legal gun dealers in California, Texas and Arizona. They are responsible for 95 percent of the gun violence in Mexico, U.S. and Mexican authorities have told ABC News' Brian Ross.

One of them, a Colt .38-caliber semi-automatic pistol traced back to X Caliber was tucked into the waistband of alleged Sinaloa drug cartel boss Alfredo Beltran Leyva when he was arrested in Mexico last January. The alleged cocaine dealer had $900,000 in cash in his possession when arrested along with two body guards, Mexican authorities said.

"I just learned from Mexican authorities that more law enforcement officers were killed in Mexico last year than all the people killed in New York, Philadelphia, Newark combined," Forcelli said. Mexican authorities told ABC News more than 2,000 law enforcement officers have been killed in the past 18 months.

According to Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials on the scene, two traffickers were arrested at their homes shortly after taking a delivery of a shipment of semi-automatic weapons, and the gun dealer was arrested and the entire inventory of his store, X Caliber Guns, was seized.

According to federal and local officials, the investigation began after an ATF review of X Caliber's records showed "an obvious pattern of firearms purchases consistent with firearms trafficking." Two individuals were identified who authorities said were acquiring firearms for the purpose of sending those firearms to individuals in Mexico. Those alleged traffickers were Hugo Gamez, 26, and his brother, Cesar Gamez, 27.

During undercover purchases over the past several weeks, AK-47 variant firearms were purchased, and conversations were recorded, which, authorities said, "clearly show [the gun store] aided in the illegal purchase of firearms by firearms traffickers by allowing firearms to be added to previously filled out [federal forms] 4473s, by allowing individuals to pay for firearms."

Melodrama aside there was nothing, absolutely nothing in the original report that indicated a crime had been committed by the shop owner. Just a lot of hyperbole. It would be insane to argue that a gun shop does NOT "traffic in firearms" or "allow individuals to pay for firearms". But there you have it.

March 19, 2009, 06:06 PM
What a shame that after all the hard work the Arizona LEO's and ATF agents putting their lives on the line to protect the citizenry from the unchecked proliferation of civilian held firearms, the undesirable was released on the feeble technicality that he had broken no laws. The system just isn't working and it's time for change.

*for those of you unfamiliar with me this is satire.

green country shooter
March 19, 2009, 06:10 PM
normally if it's called a "verdict" that means it's final and can't be retried.

However, this sounds like state charges, which means the feds may now charge him again.

March 19, 2009, 06:44 PM
I guess it depends upon what type of acquittal was granted.

Jeff White
March 19, 2009, 07:15 PM
Already under discussion here:

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