Saturday, July 23, 2011

Well, now, isn't THIS interesting?

Unable to sleep after three hours of tossing and turning, found this: You Never Know Where Someone's Allegedly Assembling Guns to Smuggle Into Mexico.

Looking through a stack of federal cases this morning I espied something odd, a file titled USA v. ... well, let's just say an address all of four blocks from my Northwest Dallas house, and a house I drive by at least once a day. A foreclosure, perhaps? A tax issue? Something perfectly benign? No, not really: In the affidavit and application for a search warrant filed last week and unsealed yesterday, an ATF agent says the owner of the house has spent the better part of the past year buying enough AR-15 and 7.62 lower receivers and parts kits needed to assemble a large arsenal. And, of course, the owner of the house doesn't have a license to deal.

According to the agent, ATF investigators were looking at the acquisition and disposition records at a Farmers Branch firearms dealer. The investigators saw that between October of last year and March of this year, one guy had bought through the dealer 15 AR-15 receivers and another 30 7.62-caliber receivers, not to mention all the other pieces needed to put those puzzles together. The owner asked the dude: Why all the orders? The buyer insisted he "was building rifles for target shooting and for his personal collection." Except ...

The ATF agent's affidavit says he learned that in January, another man was stopped by Hidalgo police -- right there on the border -- attempting to smuggle 15 guns into Mexico. Serial numbers on 12 of the guns had been completely obliterated, but three proved traceable -- two, back to the guy buying all the parts and tools.

At which point the ATF agent says he ran the home owner's employment records, which proved nonexistent. "Yet he is able to pay for his residence and for all the gun receivers and kits he is ordering," writes the agent -- including, on May 31, 20 more AK-74 receivers, which he ordered through the same dealer, who this time called ATF agents with the heads-up. And orders kept piling up: four receivers here, 20 there and so on, with a PS90 added to the pile.

At some point, the affidavit says, the owner of the store in Farmers Branch told the buyer to be careful, because the FBI's arresting people at gun shows for selling their own weapons and, besides, selling your personal guns is fine and all, but if you're doing it as a business, well, that's illegal. To which the guy allegedly assembling and selling all those guns said: "It was easier in the '80s."


Anonymous said...

It would not surprise me one bit that the fellow buying all these receivers is doing so at the behest of USG. I've seen and heard of guys busted or at least questioned for the kind of activity this 'buyer' is perpetrating.

It's worth mentioning that the margins on individuals buying receivers and assembling from the retail parts bin(s) is pretty minimal if anything at all. With completed M-forgeries going for $599 these days, this clown ain't makin' $$, he's just makin' rifles... And if he attempts to get parts wholesale, I suspect he'll run into a brick wall as these folks only deal with selected manufacturers and dealers. The gun mfg community is rather small in that respect...

I smell USG smoke. Sure is a lot of it these days, eh?

Bob Katt

Anonymous said...

I smell a rat. Big deal if this guy is assembling parts.
I agree 100% with the first poster that this is USG smoke

pdxr13 said...

As Bob notes: there isn't even minimum wage money in assembling these weapons if you pay retail for parts.

If there was a cartel being squeezed hard and losing 9 of 10 weapons to ATF/Border Patrol/Federales (effectively making $600 guns into $6000 guns), they might be willing to pay $1000 for a rifle that included delivery by border-tunnel or some other method (ultralight aircraft 350# total with 120# of rifles?) to their hideout in rural Mexico.

McGiver methods of smuggling seem interesting, but they depend on people with SKILLS that can make them legitimate steady money, so smuggling is mostly low-tech/low-skill by low-IQ criminals/peasants. It's a good thing, too, because our Government Agents (USA and Mexican) don't seem like Real Men of Genius on a mission.

It would seem to me that setting up a re-manufacturing process for ammunition and magazines would be more profitable and less risky. There isn't nearly the control on those items that serialized receivers or de-mil'd rifles have. Like MLM organizations, you want to sell something they need over and over again: soap, not a washing machine. Stupid criminal, impaling himself on the sharpened/baited automated spear of US law enforcement, when a dodge left or right lets him run free.

Let's summarize: there's not a lot of money in building weapons from kits for garage makers. There is a fair amount of LE contact risk for folks who make more than about 10 "private" guns a year and sell them to the usual suspects who also don't have legitimate incomes. Building "good/working" rifles from part-kits/de-mil junk takes a certain amount of skill/training and an investment in tools. Complete receivers are hard to buy over-the-counter in quantity without someone noticing. Even "80% complete" receivers in quantity will garner some notice and require that much more skill/set-up to make useful. Here's the leap requiring someone to survive long enough to get in front of Grassley or Issa: "My (Letter Agency) handler told me to do this, showed me how, helped me when I was too inept to follow directions, and gave me the money to get started."

Prove it, and provide breathing witnesses.