Monroe Gun Dealers Charged With
Illegally Importing Machine Guns
The Associated Press
MONROE, N.C. -- A pair of gun-trading brothers face federal charges of illegally importing Russian and Soviet-made machine guns and selling thousands of the weapons across the country.
Oliver and Ulrich Wiegand are charged in an 83-count indictment with crimes including conspiracy, illegal importation of machine guns, illegal possession and transfer of machine guns, and money laundering.
Oliver, 37, and Ulrich, 34, are brothers and German nationals, federal authorities said Thursday. They operate Inter Ordnance, a gun dealership based in Monroe; the charges involve Inter Ordnance and businesses in Witten, Germany, and Ferlach, Austria.
The Wiegands, both of Indian Trail, "reaped a substantial financial profit" from the sales and used the money to "support their extravagant personal lifestyles," according to a federal grand jury indictment issued Tuesday and unsealed Thursday.
Charges against each brother carry maximum penalties totaling 960 years in prison.
"The illegal importation, possession, and transfer of fully automatic machine guns pose a serious risk to law enforcement and other citizens," said U.S. Attorney Bob Conrad.
Ulrich Wiegand was held after an appearance Thursday before a federal magistrate in Charlotte. Oliver Wiegand was believed to be out of the country.
"My client and his company have tried their best to comply with vague ATF guidelines," Oliver Wiegand's lawyer, Chris Fialko, said. "He denies any wrongdoing."
Ulrich Wiegand's attorney could not be reached for comment.
The indictment alleges the brothers concealed the illegal sales of machine guns by referring to them as "parts kits" - allowing them to evade tax payments, record-keeping requirements, and required background checks of potential customers.
Prosecutors said the brothers used their German
and Austrian businesses to illegally import the guns, then sold more than 3,500
of them in parts kits by mail and Internet without background checks or recording
The indictment said the firearms were sold to customers in South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.
But, Fialko said, "The trade groups representing
importers of destroyed gun parts kits for gun collectors have been for years
asking for clearer guidelines as to how these guns should be cut up properly."
"It appears the ATF has decided to legislate by indictment, instead of issuing proper regulations," he said. "This will be a contest of expert witnesses at trial."
Ulrich Wiegand is also accused of directing Inter Ordnance employees to structure cash deposits into various bank accounts in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements.
The brothers used Inter Ordnance bank accounts to transfer funds to various international accounts to conceal and disguise the company's profits, the indictment said.
Inter Ordnance's Web site tells customers it
is a wholesale firearms distributor. The site offers items for sale including
weapons and military gear such as a Belgian gas mask and reproductions of German
World War II boots and helmets.
Thousands of dissassembled parts kits (firearms which have had the main section - the receiver - removed) have been imported into the US for use as replacement parts for existing firearms for over 20 years. The ATF has stated over and over again "The receiver IS the gun". In direct violation of their own ruling, they have "re-defined" their rule.
What will they "re-define" next?
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