Gunning for Profit

Opportunists make a fortune supplying guerrillas and terrorists from South Florida gun shops

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Lacosta jumped at the chance. And while they were at it, how about getting the other guns or finding out how they ended up in Colombia?

"I didn't hear him volunteering that, sir," the judge said after a pause. "I don't think you need to rent a truck."

Unlike many gun dealers facing prison time, Vega didn't turn over. He never ratted out those who must have helped him smuggle his guns from Ecuador to Colombia, where they landed in the hands of rebels responsible for thousands of murders and kidnappings. Martinez offered Vega one last chance before sending him away for 37 months, even agreeing to give him a year to think about it. Vega didn't bite.

Colby Katz
Gunshows, like a recent one (above) in Fort Lauderdale, have been frequented by weapons smugglers. Pistols and revolvers (left) in the ATF's evidence locker are exhibits in the trials of gunrunners busted in Miami.
Colby Katz
Gunshows, like a recent one (above) in Fort Lauderdale, have been frequented by weapons smugglers. Pistols and revolvers (left) in the ATF's evidence locker are exhibits in the trials of gunrunners busted in Miami.

Before the judge, Vega asked for leniency so he could spend time with his children. "I ask forgiveness from the U.S. citizenry for this deed," Vega said. He ended his speech by thanking the nation with weak gun laws that may have helped him get rich. "I would like one last opportunity. This is the first time I commit this kind of mistake. That is all, your honor. May God bless you, and may God bless this country."

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