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HomeNewsArchives'Ringleader' of Firearms Conspiracy Convicted in Texas

'Ringleader' of Firearms Conspiracy Convicted in Texas

A man described by prosecutors as the ringleader of a conspiracy that smuggled at least six weapons into the U.S. Virgin Islands was convicted of firearms charges in a federal court in Texas, U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe announced Wednesday.

The case involved more than 30 firearms, six of which were seized from crime scenes in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The conspiracy involved co-defendants who lied to federal firearms dealers in the purchase of firearms shipped into the territory.

Tyrone Reid, 22, was found guilty Feb. 19 after a three-day trial. The jury took two hours to arrive at a verdict, convicting Reid on three of the four counts he faced, according to court documents. Wednesday’s press release and court documents seen by the Source did not name his co-conspirators.

According to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas, Reid’s grandmother traveled to Houston for the trial and testified that Reid sent guns to her in the Virgin Islands. Reid then took the stand on his own behalf and called his grandmother a liar.

Sharpe, the U.S. attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands, said the conviction sends a message to would-be drug smugglers, and praised the cooperation of the agencies which worked together in the investigation.

“The conviction of this firearms trafficker would not have occurred without the outstanding inter-agency cooperation by members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations and the Virgin Islands Police Department,” said Sharpe.

“The conviction of Reid will send a message to all in the Virgin Islands and beyond that illegal firearms trafficking will not be tolerated.”

Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Reid induced others to claim that they were the actual buyers of the firearms, even though Reid supplied the money and immediately took possession from the buyers, according to Sharpe’s press release.

Testimony revealed that none of the purported buyers kept any of the more than 30 firearms they purchased, many of which were later found at crime scenes both in the continental United States and Virgin Islands. Of the seven firearms seized in the Virgin Islands, six were seized from crime scenes, including a homicide. Two firearms also were found at New Jersey crime scenes, including an aggravated armed robbery.

According to trial evidence, Western Union receipts sent from the Virgin Islands to the mainland reflected more than $60,000 in payments Reid received. Three of the firearms were recovered by agents in a search at the home of one of Reid’s associates, who also was linked to money sent from the Virgin Islands to Reid in Houston.

Reid was arrested in May 2012 on a warrant issued in Houston.

The indictment, filed in court in May 2012, said the conspiracy took place between Nov. 1, 2009, and Aug. 31, 2010. According to the indictment, Reid and his co-conspirators recruited "straw buyers," who used payments from Reid to purchase the guns, with Reid telling them what type of weapons to buy and from what licensed firearm dealers to purchase them.

The indictment also says the conspirators knew that in some cases the serial numbers would be obliterated. At least $46,000 of the money used to purchase the weapons came from the U.S. Virgin Islands, the indictment said.

Weapons purchased included a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, two Century Arms 7.62 caliber pistols, two Glocks – one a .37 caliber and one a .45 caliber – two Hi-Point .45 caliber pistols,

Reid’s sentencing is scheduled for May 14 in Houston. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

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