Crime

Man identified as Colombian judge accused in arms-shipment case in Miami

A newly assembled AR-15 rifle at the Stag Arms company in New Britain, Conn, in this file photo from April 10, 2013.
A newly assembled AR-15 rifle at the Stag Arms company in New Britain, Conn, in this file photo from April 10, 2013. AP File

Miguel Horacio Gómez Achicue, identified in Colombian news reports as a judge in Cali, was arraigned in Miami federal court last week and pleaded not guilty in a case involving the shipment of parts for AR-15 rifles.

The next step is the trial, which has not been scheduled yet.

The case attracted renewed attention after the Colombian news outlet Noticias Caracol identified Gómez Achicue as a labor court judge in Cali, a major Colombian city southwest of Bogotá, the capital.

Labor courts resolve disputes between employees and employers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer against Gómez Achicue, who was arrested at Miami International Airport after being accused of sending “defense articles” to Colombia. Even if he got bail, he would still be sent to the Krome detention center for immigrants to await trial, according to court records.

Gómez Achicue, 49, asked for bail, but Judge Andrea Simonton denied it, citing risk of flight.

Last Monday, Gómez Achicue appeared in court again, this time before Judge John O’Sullivan, to plead not guilty through his lawyer Frank Gaviria. He told el Nuevo Herald that he would consider commenting in the future. A Homeland Security Investigations spokesman said he could not comment because the case was under investigation.

The case came to light May 17 when Colombian authorities notified their U.S. counterparts that they had discovered parts of the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle hidden in a package shipped from Pembroke Pines to Cali, according to a criminal complaint filed by a special agent of HSI, a unit of ICE.

The AR-15 resembles the military version known as M16.

“The firearm parts were concealed in the package, which also contained clothing and shoes,” according to the criminal complaint. “The airway bill on the package revealed that the package was sent by Gómez Achicue on or about May 15, 2017, through Envios Pembroke, a shipment center located in Pembroke Pines.”

The parts included bolt carrier groups, flash suppressors, lower parts kits, a butt stock, and a hand guard, according to the affidavit.

The day after that first alert, authorities were notified by the same shipping company that Gómez Achicue had just dropped off another package to be sent to Cali.

Two days later, on May 20, Gómez Achicue went to MIA to board a flight to Colombia, according to the criminal complaint.

Shortly before boarding the flight to Bogotá, federal agents detained Gómez Achicue and during a subsequent check of his baggage discovered more parts of an AR-15 , according to the complaint.

After being arrested, the complaint says, “Gómez Achicue stated he shipped the three intercepted packages containing firearms parts, he knew there were firearm parts in the packages, and he shipped the firearm parts in three separate packages in order to ‘avoid problems.’”

Gómez Achicue also said that “he knew exporting firearm parts was ‘incorrect,’” the complaint says.

Furthermore, it adds, “Gómez Achicue stated his friend asked him to ship the firearm parts to Colombia and that his friend had given him $1,500 to be used to purchase the firearm parts.”

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