Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Colombian Judge Arraigned in Florida Court on Weapons Shipment Charges

A Colombian judge, Miguel Horacio Gomez Achicue, was arrested at Miami International Airport earlier this month and later arraigned on charges relating to the shipment of gun parts from the U.S. to his home country. Gomez Achicue is accused of sending parts of an AR-15, a civilian version of the military's M-16, from Pembroke Pines, Florida to Cali, Colombia in violation of federal customs laws.

The criminal complaint alleges the firearm parts "were concealed in the package, which also contained clothing and shoes," but not concealed enough, apparently.

Judge for Yourself

According to Colombian news reports, helpfully passed on by the Miami Herald, Gómez Achicue is a labor court judge in Cali, settling disputes between employees and employers. His own appearances before American judges didn't go so well: Judge Andrea Simonton first denied the 49-year-old bail, citing him as a flight risk, and then Judge John O'Sullivan heard his not guilty plea later.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement initially issued a detainer against Gómez Achicue after Colombian authorities discovered parts of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle hidden in a package shipped from Florida to Colombia. "The airway bill on the package revealed that the package was sent by Gómez Achicue on or about May 15, 2017," according to the criminal complaint, and included bolt carrier groups, flash suppressors, lower parts kits, a butt stock, and a hand guard. When Gómez Achicue was arrested at Miami International before boarding a flight to Bogota two days later, even more AR-15 parts were discovered in his baggage.

Judge to Be Judged

Following his arrest, the judge made a couple admissions his attorneys may have wished he hadn't. First, according to the criminal complaint, 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.'" He even added that "he knew exporting firearm parts was 'incorrect.'" Not great statements to have on the record if you want to try the "I didn't know it was illegal" defense.

Gómez Achicue also tried to throw an unnamed acquaintance under the bus, telling investigators "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." There's no telling what the Colombian judge's third appearance before a Florida judge will bring.

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