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Accused Fast and Furious gun smuggler set to change plea

In this Jan. 25, 2011 picture, Bill Newell, special agent in charge of ATF Phoenix, speaks behind a cache of seized weapons in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX (AP) — A man accused of buying guns for a smuggling ring is expected to change his plea in the federal government’s botched investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious.

Erick Avila Davila is set to change his plea July 16.

Davila had previously pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, dealing guns without a license and making false statements in gun purchases.

Authorities say Davila had claimed that the seven guns he bought were for him when he was actually making the purchases on behalf of the ring.

So far, 11 people in the alleged 20-member smuggling ring have pleaded guilty.

Federal authorities have faced criticism for allowing suspected straw gun buyers to walk away from gun shops with weapons, rather than arrest the suspects and seize the guns there.

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