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Three Sentenced In Connection With Odessa-Based Firearms Straw Purchasing And Trafficking Investigation

May 16, 2013

In Midland today, sentences were handed down to three individuals, including former Odessa, TX, residents Miguel and Michelle Compean and Odessa resident Brian Connell, for their roles in a firearms straw purchasing and trafficking investigation announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Dallas Field Office Special Agent in Charge Robert Champion.

United States District Judge Robert A. Junell sentenced 28-year-old Brian Connell to 60 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.  On February 25, 2013, Connell pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States and one count of giving a false statement to a federal official.

Judge Junell also sentenced Greenville, TX, residents 33–year-old Miguel Angel Compean, and his wife, 27-year-old Michelle Compean to 121 months in federal prison and 60 months probation, respectively.  On February 11, 2013, Miguel Compean pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States, one count of making a false statement in the acquisition of a firearm and one count of aggravated identity theft.  On February 20, 2013, Michelle Compean pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement in the acquisition of a firearm.

By pleading guilty, the defendants admitted to participating in a scheme which involved surreptitiously purchasing approximately 100 firearms, including AK-47 style rifles and pistols, from various firearms dealers in Odessa, Fort Worth, Dallas, Brenham and Mesquite, TX, in order to smuggle them from the United States into Mexico during a 13-month period beginning in December 2011.  Miguel Compean admittedly purchased firearms for himself by using a relative’s name, date of birth and social security number.  Compean also admitted to recruiting his wife, Michelle, and Brian Connell to purchase firearms on his behalf and paying Connell $300 for each firearm that Connell straw purchased and gave to Compean.  Michelle Compean and Brian Connell both admitted to making false statements on ATF Form 4473 at the time of a firearm purchase claiming to be the actual buyer.

This case was investigated by ATF agents.  Assistant United States Attorney Will Tatum prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.

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