Possessing guns nets prison time for illegal immigrant


A Mexican man has been ordered to serve two years in federal prison for acquiring dozens of guns while illegally living in the United States.

When the investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security searched Julio Garay-Gutierrez’s residence south of Cody in June, they reportedly found 67 firearms that Garay-Gutierrez claimed as his own, plus a “large” amount of ammunition.

Garay-Gutierrez, 40, pleaded guilty to one felony count of being an illegal alien in possession of firearms. Last week, he received a 24-month prison sentence from U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl. Garay-Gutierrez stands to be deported once he serves that time.

His trouble with the law began on a night last spring, when Cody Police Officer Rayna Wortham spotted him driving with only his parking lights on.

Wortham pulled Garay-Gutierrez over on Cody’s Big Horn Avenue a little before 10:30 p.m. on May 28. In an affidavit included in court records, Wortham wrote that she immediately smelled alcohol when she approached Garay-Gutierrez’s vehicle. He told the officer he’d just left the Silver Dollar Bar after drinking a couple beers and that he’d taken painkilling oxycodone and morphine about six hours earlier.

He failed sobriety tests and was arrested, registering a 0.28 percent blood alcohol content level in a test administered at the Park County Detention Center; that’s 3 1/2 times the legal limit for driving.

“Gutierrez made several statements while he was in the booking process about needing help with his alcohol problem ...,” Wortham wrote.

At his first appearance in Park County’s Circuit Court, Garay-Gutierrez pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of driving while under the influence of a combination of alcohol and controlled substances and to driving without a license. Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters gave Garay-Gutierrez credit for the three days he’d served since his arrest, suspended another 87 days of jail time and released him to six months of unsupervised probation with an order to pay $990 in fees and fines.

However, his freedom would be short-lived. After his release, Garay-Gutierrez was interviewed by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer and admitted he’d illegally entered the U.S. around 2001. He recalled being arrested trying to cross the border at the age of 17 — which would be around 1994 — and he was later turned down for immigration relief in 1999, investigators say they later learned.

After interviewing Garay-Gutierrez, the deportation officer reviewed the Cody police department’s report on the DUI arrest and noted that Garay-Gutierrez reportedly had a pistol in his possession.

The information was later forwarded to John Allred, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, which is a branch of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement within the Department of Homeland Security.

In late June, Allred obtained a search warrant for Garay-Gutierrez’s home off Wyo. Highway 120, just outside of Cody city limits.

Allred wrote in an affidavit that he explained to Garay-Gutierrez that authorities were looking for firearms and documents.

“When Garay asked [me] why, I informed him that he could not possess firearms because he was an illegal alien,” Allred wrote. “I went through the facts with Garay, that he had entered the country illegally, then his petition for immigration relief had been denied a long time ago and thus Garay was unlawfully present in the United States. Garay agreed with [me] on those points.”

He was arrested that day and has been in federal custody since then.

Garay-Gutierrez specifically pleaded guilty to possessing two Sig Sauer pistols and a Bushmaster rifle.