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05/15/2013

Dominica national in Houston sentenced to 14 years in prison for firearms purchase conspiracy

HOUSTON – A citizen of the island nation of Dominica, who had been residing in Houston, was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in federal prison following his conviction to a conspiracy involving numerous co-defendants who lied to federal firearms dealers during their purchase of firearms.

This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD). The following agencies assisted with this investigation: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Houston Police Department’s Major Offenders; Harris County Sheriff’s Office; and the U.S. Postal Service.

Tyrone Reid, 22, was sentenced May 15 to 168 months in prison – 60 months for the conspiracy conviction, as well as 60 and 48 months on each of the two convictions of making false statements to a federal firearms licensee. All sentences are to run consecutively for a total of 14 years in federal prison. In handing down the sentences, Judge Hittner also ordered that Reid, who is not a U.S. citizen, be immediately deported after he completes his prison sentence.

At the hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David Hittner found that Reid was connected to known drug traffickers in the Virgin Islands, and is the most culpable in this criminal conspiracy. Reid was convicted Feb. 19 after three days of trial and about two hours of deliberation.

"This sentence further demonstrates that HSI will not tolerate these flagrant violations to our customs laws," said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan and U.S. Virgin Islands. "We will continue working with our law enforcement partners in the territories and the States to identify, arrest and prosecute those who, in total disregard for public safety, think they can circumvent our laws and get away with it."

This case began when HSI special agents and officers with the VIPD executed a search warrant at the home of a known drug dealer in the Virgin Islands, resulting in the discovery of drugs and several firearms. The firearms were found to have been purchased by individuals in Houston at Reid’s direction.

The trial evidence showed that Reid induced others to claim they were the actual buyer of the firearms, even though he supplied the money and immediately took possession of the firearms from the buyer. Testimony revealed that none of the purported buyers kept any of the firearms they purchased, many of which were later found in crime scenes, both in the continental United States and in the Virgin Islands.

Western Union receipts sent from the Virgin Islands to the United States reflected more than $60,000 in payments received by Reid or at his direction. Further, three firearms were recovered by agents in a search at the residence of one of Reid’s associates, who was also linked to some of the money sent from the Virgin Islands to Reid in Houston. Evidence demonstrated that a total of seven firearms were seized in the Virgin Islands, six of which were seized from crime scenes, including a homicide. Two other firearms associated with this conspiracy were found in New Jersey crime scenes, including an aggravated armed robbery.

Testimony revealed that more than 30 firearms were identified in Reid’s lying-and-buying conspiracy.

Reid’s grandmother, who had traveled to Houston to testify, told the jury that Reid had sent guns to her in the Virgin Islands. Reid took the stand on his own behalf and then called his grandmother a liar.

Reid will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Reid’s co-conspirators in Houston and another in the Virgin Islands were all also convicted and sentenced for their roles in the scheme.

"The successful resolution to this case would not have occurred without the outstanding inter-agency cooperation of HSI; VIPD; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Customs and Border Protection; Houston Police Department – Major Offenders; Harris County Sheriff’s Office; and the U.S. Postal Service," Magidson said. "By working together, we could ensure the investigation progressed and five people were ultimately held accountable for their criminal actions."

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joe Magliolo and Megan Paulson, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.