The Justice Department yesterday evening announced the sentencing of one of of 20 indicted individuals in the Fast and Furious gun scandal.
Danny Cruz Morones was sentenced to 57 months in prison on charges of conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, making false statements in connection with smuggling and dealing in firearms without a license. He was the first of the 20 indicted individuals to have his case resolved, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The 24-year-old Phoenix man was sentenced by San Diego U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of California, headed by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.
Morones pleaded guilty to acting as the “straw purchaser” of more than 90 AK-47 style rifles, meaning he knew the guns would eventually be smuggled into Mexico.
Fast and Furious was a failed firearms operation out of the Arizona Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unit and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office. The operation, intended to track firearms as they were trafficked over the border into Mexico, backfired when hundreds of guns went missing. U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a gunfight with Mexican bandits in December 2010. Two guns found at the scene were linked to Operation Fast and Furious.
The gun-walking investigation has become a hot button political topic, with Congress hammering the Justice Department for the botched operation. Attorney General Eric Holder became the first sitting cabinet member to be found in contempt of Congress in June when the House voted to sanction the top justice official.
The case was prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys Mark Conover, Timothy Coughlin and Shane P. Harrigan.
“The 57-month sentence imposed by the court today not only reflects the threat his criminal conduct caused to the safety of our communities, but serves to put others on notice that those who lie and buy for the other guy will face significant jail time,” Duffy said in a statement.