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06/13/2013

Houston man sentenced to 101 months in prison for firearms trafficking

HOUSTON – A local man was sentenced to 101 months in prison for smuggling more than 300 firearms to Colombia, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The joint investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Patrick Regan, 41, pleaded guilty Jan. 24, 2012, to conspiring to make and making a false statement to a federal firearms licensee, dealing in firearms without a license, possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers and possessing an unregistered firearm.

On June 13, additional court evidence was presented, including the fact that the guns were being supplied to organizations in Colombia that take over and control areas of the country by killing law abiding citizens and legitimate police officers. After hearing arguments from both the government and the defense, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison sentenced Regan to a total of 60 months on each of the first four charges to run concurrently. He was further sentenced to 41 months for possessing an unregistered firearm, to be served consecutively for a total sentence of 101 months in federal prison.

Following completion of his sentence, Regan will serve two years of supervised release during which time he cannot commit any further crimes and cannot possess a firearm.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Ellison noted this was one of the most serious crimes encountered by the district courts and that courts will deal with this type of conduct severely. He further stated he is concerned about the harm done to people as a result of this activity.

An investigation into the illegal export by Regan of firearms to Colombia was initiated by ATF in October 2010. During the course of the investigation, ATF and HSI, working jointly, learned Regan had acquired an unusually large number of firearms and related equipment around October 2009 and had been receiving substantial sums of money via wire transfer from banks in Colombia. The results of the joint investigative effort led to the accusations that Regan made false statements to federally licensed firearms dealers to obtain firearms, obliterated the serial numbers on the firearms and unlawfully exported the firearms to Colombia.

Agents intercepted 27 firearms in Houston bound for Colombia. Regan admitted to shipping hundreds of firearms to Colombia and, according to evidence at the hearing Thursday, more than $100,000 was wired to Regan from Colombia during the course of the conspiracy.

On Dec. 8, 2010, agents witnessed Regan ship numerous boxes addressed to recipients in Colombia. An examination of those boxes and their shipping labels resulted in a determination that the name of the addressee was fictitious, the shipping address was an abandoned residence in Colombia, the shipper’s name and address were fictitious and the description of the content of the packages identified as machine castings or pressure washers was also false. The boxes actually contained 16 firearms, including eight Fabrique-Nationale Herstal, model Five-seven, 5.7 x 28mm caliber pistols and eight Double Star, model STAR-15, 5.56mm caliber complete lower receivers. The lower receivers are components of AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles which are similar in appearance to the U.S. military’s M-4 rifle. Each firearm had its serial number obliterated.

Agents intercepted two subsequent firearms shipments made by Regan to Colombian addresses. A shipment intercepted on Dec. 15, 2010, included eight firearms. The following day, three Rock River Arms, model LAR-15, 5.56mm caliber lower receivers, were also recovered.

ATF and HSI agents executed a number of search warrants, including one at Regan’s Houston area residence, resulting in the discovery and seizure of 55 additional lower and upper receivers for AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles, an unregistered fully assembled short-barrel AR-15 rifle and two pieces of metal working machinery.

ATF and HSI personnel stationed at the United States Embassy in Bogota passed on valuable leads to the Colombian National Police who conducted several searches in Colombia timed to coincide with the arrests in the United States. Colombian National Police have arrested several people and dismantled a workshop where firearms were being assembled from the lower receivers that Regan allegedly supplied and other essential components.

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

The ATF and HSI conducted this investigation with the assistance of the United States Embassy in Bogota, the Colombian National Police and the Houston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Megan J. Paulson and former AUSA Mark White prosecuted this case.