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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Montana

For Immediate Release

January 26, 2012

Michael W. Cotter, United States Attorney

Contact: Jessica T. Fehr, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana
(406) 247- 4637

Harley Clifford Combres Sentenced in U.S. District Court

The United States Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on January 25, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, HARLEY CLIFFORD COMBRES, a 28-year-old citizen of Canada, appeared for sentencing.

COMBRES was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 87 months
  • Special Assessment: $100
  • Supervised Release: 3 years

COMBRES was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to attempted illegal export of firearms.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulette L. Stewart, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following: On March 26, 2011, COMBRES and Caley Sinclair were arrested in Billings with 12 handguns. COMBRES and Sinclair planned to take the 12 firearms back to Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

The investigation revealed that Sinclair legally passed into the United States through the Port of Piegan on March 25, 2011. COMBRES, who is excluded from the United States due to his extensive Canadian criminal history, circumvented the port and walked into the nited States. Sinclair dropped off COMBRES on the Canadian side of the border and picked him up on the United States side of the border. Sinclair and COMBRES then traveled to Lewistown where COMBRES purchased one handgun. Sinclair and COMBRES then traveled to Billings where they stayed the night.

On March 26, 2011, Sinclair and COMBRES attended a gun show in Billings. They purchased a total of 11 handguns throughout the day – Sinclair held the money and transported some of the handguns to their vehicle while COMBRES did the actual firearms purchasing. During his purchasing of the handguns at the gun show, COMBRES remained in constant contact with another individual in this case ("SAL"). COMBRES and SAL traded numerous picture and text messages during this time. SAL would approve or order certain handguns. Law enforcement officers arrested Sinclair and COMBRES that day and recovered the 12 handguns after receiving consent to search their vehicle and their cell phones.

The investigation revealed that Sinclair and COMBRES planned to return to Canada the same way they entered the United States: Sinclair would drop off COMBRES before reaching the border, Sinclair would legally return to Canada, COMBRES would illegally walk into Canada with the handguns in a backpack, and Sinclair would pick up COMBRES in Canada. The investigation also revealed that their trip to Billings was not their first trip into the United States to purchase handguns and take them illegally into Canada. A person wanting to export handguns into Canada must obtain an export license and fill out proper paperwork. Neither Sinclair nor COMBRES had obtained a license or filled out the proper paperwork to export handguns.

Sinclair pled guilty to federal charges and has been sentenced.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that COMBRES will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, COMBRES does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for good behavior. However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence. The investigation was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.