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Gainesville man sentenced in guns-to-Mexico conspiracy case
Othon Marban Sr.
Othon Marban Sr.

A Gainesville man took guns to Mexico because he thought his family was in danger if he didn’t, according to court officials.

Othon Marban Sr., 56, pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to transfer firearms outside the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels and false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Story sentenced Marban to two years in federal prison Tuesday, Nov. 29.

Marban and his son, Othon Marban Jr., 20, were stopped Dec. 3 heading southbound on Interstate 985. Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies found 51 guns wrapped in cellophane in the truck.

The indictment stated that the two men bought guns from local stores such as Academy Sports and Outdoors, Foxhole Gun & Archery, Georgia Gun Store, Outdoor Depot, and Dawsonville Gun and Pawn.

The firearms included 12-gauge shotguns, rifles, pistols and revolvers.

Defense attorney Mildred Dunn told the court about how Marban’s family had been threatened, though the details of that threat are not clear.

The elder Marban thought if he didn’t bring the guns to Mexico, his family would get hurt, Dunn said. She said her client felt immense guilt for getting his son involved.

Dunn said the parties were “dealing with a lot of speculation,” as it is not clear who the recipients of the guns would be and what their actual connections to the cartels were.

The defense attorney submitted an article from The Guardian showing how people in the community are arming themselves for protection.

“People are fighting back in Mexico,” Dunn said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Keen told the judge this was not Marban’s first trip, and there was reason to believe he knew that the guns transferred would be used for unlawful reasons.

Story said the inference that these guns were going to unlawful actors was the most reasonable interpretation.

Keen said Marban accepted responsibility early on and did not waver on his story about the threat to his family, though he could not provide specifics about the threat.

Marban may not have known exactly who would get the guns, Keen said, but the Gainesville man would know it would perpetuate violence in the Guerrero, Mexico, area.

The prosecution asked for 24 months, roughly double what Marban’s son was sentenced to earlier this month.

Marban had no criminal history and became a U.S. citizen.

Dunn argued for a sentence of a year and a day, the same sentence as Marban’s son.

Feeling like he has derailed his son’s life, Marban has such guilt that he would not step out of line again, Dunn said.

Marban elected not to speak at the hearing.

While he understood Marban’s motivation, Story said he “cannot overstate” the seriousness of the offense.

Introducing more guns to that area of Mexico is “an injustice” to the people who live there, Story said.

Story allowed for Marban to delay reporting for his prison sentence until April, and Marban will also be on supervised release for three years after his time in prison.

Marban was also ordered to forfeit 51 firearms with any associated magazines and ammunition.

The Times reached out to Dunn following the sentencing hearing by telephone and email, but those requests were not returned.