Man pleads guilty to gun charges in botched probe

Associated Press, 4/6/12

A man who bought two rifles found at the scene of the fatal shooting of a federal agent near the Arizona-Mexico border pleaded guilty Thursday to two felony charges in the federal government’s botched gun smuggling investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious.

Authorities say Jaime Avila Jr. was a member of a 20-person ring accused of buying guns and smuggling them into Mexico for use by the Sinaloa drug cartel. Two AK-47 variants bought by Avila from a suburban Phoenix gun store were found in the aftermath of a December 2010 shootout that mortally wounded Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry near Nogales, Ariz.

Avila, 25, faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to dealing guns without a federal license and conspiracy to deal guns without a license, making false statements in a gun purchase and smuggling goods out of the U.S. A sentencing hearing is set for June 25.

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