Three arrested, charged in gun trafficking scheme
Jan 09, 2013 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Three people have been arrested in connection with a firearms trafficking and straw purchasing ring based in Odessa.
Brian Connell, 28, Miguel Angel Compean, 32, and Michelle Compean, 27, all have been arrested on the federal charges set out in a December indictment.
According to a Department of Justice news release, the three are charged in a 10-count federal indictment with conspiracy to smuggle firearms.
Additionally, the release stated Miguel Compean is charged with four counts of providing fraudulent or fictitious information while purchasing a firearm, a count of making a false statement in the acquisition of a firearm (straw purchasing) and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
According to the release, Connell also is charged with two counts of making false statements in the acquisition of a firearm (straw purchasing), and Michelle Compean is charged with one count of providing fraudulent or fictitious information while purchasing a firearm.
The three former Odessans conspired to purchase about 100 firearms, according to the news release, including pistols and AK-47 style rifles from dealers in Odessa, Fort Worth, Dallas, Brenham and Mesquite beginning in December 2011 with the ultimate goal of smuggling the firearms into Mexico.
According to the release, Miguel Compean recruited his wife, Michelle, and Connell to purchase firearms on his behalf, for which Miguel Compean paid Connell $300 per firearm purchased.
Both Michelle Compean and Connell made false statements to the ATF at the time of purchase, claiming to be an actual buyer, according to the release, and Miguel Compean purchased firearms using a relative's name, date of birth, and Social Security number.
Connell is in federal custody and will have a 9 a.m. hearing in Midland today. Michelle Compean was arrested last month in Greenville, and Miguel Compean has been in state custody on unrelated charges, according to the news release.
If convicted, each faces up to five years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge; up to five years in federal prison for each charge of providing false information while purchasing a firearm; up to 10 years in federal prison for each charge of making false statements during a firearms purchase (straw purchasing); and a consecutive two years in federal prison for each charge of aggravated identity theft, according to the news release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Tatum is the prosecutor on the case. Tracey Bright Scown is representing Miguel Compean.
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