Montana-to-Mexico gun runner pleads guilty, but he could have had a solid defense

(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

We’re dealing with such a bizarro world that the country of Mexico, one of our closest allies in trade, has tried to sue American gun manufacturers because of their own crime issues. We can observe how the Mexican government has allowed an influx of unvetted illegal aliens to jaunt across our border, bringing with them military aged men seeking asylum and who knows who else. But this is not about the U.S. – Mexico relations. This is about a guy who plead guilty to running guns to our friends south of the border.

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Cristyan Jose Gonzalez-Carrillo, 37, of Bozeman, pleaded guilty to illegal export before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto.

According to court documents, an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) determined that from February 2020 to May 2020, Gonzalez-Carrillo purchased approximately 31 handguns. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Gonzalez-Carrillo’s residence in July 2020 and recovered firearms and ammunition, including semi-automatic handguns and AR style rifles. Receipts seized during the search were from multiple stores in Montana for the purchase of firearms during that period. In addition, the investigation determined that Gonzalez-Carrillo’s vehicle plate records would demonstrate multiple border crossings at San Ysidro, California, from April 2020 to June 2020. Investigators also learned that Gonzalez-Carrillo purchased and advertised firearms for sale on the platform WhatsApp and sold firearms to individuals in Mexico.

“Every day across America, the Department of Justice is fighting the twin epidemics of gun violence and drug poisoning that shatter our communities,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “To win that battle, we must root out and prosecute those who traffic illegal firearms to Mexico – where weapons end up in the hands of violent cartels that send deadly drugs back to the United States. Today’s guilty plea represents another step forward, but also a sobering reminder that the fight against cross-border firearms-trafficking is a nationwide challenge.”

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The level of mixed feelings that can pop up when reading through a report like this are not meant to underscore the gravity of the situation. No, the illegal exportation of firearms is not something I’d personally subscribe to being an acceptable practice. However, there’s the fact that the amount of mayhem that’s going on in Mexico, which revolves around all the things that Deputy Attorney General Monaco pointed out, can’t possibly be made worse by one guy illegally selling firearms.

What’s more likely in this scenario is an alternate narrative. What if Gonzalez-Carrillo was selling arms to people who wish to protect themselves? Let’s face it, getting a gun in Mexico is not easy, at least if you want to do it legally. There’s one place to lawfully buy guns in the country, and those arms are not exactly up to the task of protecting people against cartel-related criminal happenings. For all we know, this guy could have been a Robin Hood of sorts. Is that likely? No. But is it possible?

Mexico has been in a war for years. A war they’re not likely to pull themselves out of without the help of really strong internal leadership, and or help from external forces. The people who live in some of the chaotic areas are collateral damage to the carnage that rips through their communities. Plop on top of that the people’s inability to effectively self-defend, and you’ve got the nightmarish conditions that many Mexican citizens live with every day.

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Not knowing all the full details of Gonzalez-Carrillo dealings, it’s hard to tell what – besides making money – his modus operandi was. We also don’t know the particulars of him getting caught and what evidence was gathered against him. What we do know is that he probably was sitting on a very fantastic affirmative defense and did not know it. His plea could have been very simple…a no-contest plea with the notation, “Eric Holder did this too, ya know.”

If the rolls of history are stowed so far back in the cabinets that we can’t remember, I’ll remind readers of Operation Fast and Furious. Fast and Furious was a gun-running operation that was led by then President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. The Obama/Holder regime saw to the illegal exportation of arms from the United States into Mexico. We also know of one border agent who was murdered by one of the arms that was trafficked into Mexico.

This case for Gonzalez-Carrillo could have been pretty simple. Obama and Holder did it and no one should face charges for similar offenses until they too have to answer for their crimes – not even all of them, just this one. The fundamental right for people to self-defend by being armed cannot be overstated in any manner. Not yesterday, and certainly not today.

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