News and Press Releases

Former U.S. Marine Found Guilty of Possessing Chrome-Plated AK-47 Machine Gun that Was Plundered from Iraq after Fall of Saddam

July 3, 2012

RIVERSIDE, California – A federal jury has convicted a former United States Marine of possessing a fully automatic, chrome-plated AK-47 that may have once belonged to a member of Saddam Hussein’s royal guard.

Joel Cleve Miller, 40, of Twentynine Palms, was found guilty of illegally possessing a machine gun last Friday afternoon following a four-day trial. As a result of the conviction, Miller faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

The evidence presented at trial established that the chrome-plated AK-47 machine gun was smuggled into the United States from Iraq. Miller, who returned to the United States from a 14-month tour of duty in Iraq in 2005, showed several people the chrome-plated AK-47 machine gun, during which he told them he smuggled the gun into the United States and that it once belonged to a member of Saddam Hussein’s royal guard.

The case against Miller is part of a broader investigation being conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service into the sales and distribution of automatic weapons in the United States. NCIS Acting Supervisory Special Agent Albert Nelson stated: “This case sends a strong message that we will continue to investigate those who illegally possess and distribute dangerous weapons such as machine guns. We will continue our efforts to remove these weapons from the streets where they put innocent lives at risk.”

The jury that convicted Miller acquitted him on charges related to the possession of another machine gun.

Miller is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips on September 27.

Miller was an active member of the United States Marines Corps for more than 20 years, reaching the rank of staff sergeant, before being discharged in December 2011 for approving false travel claims and stealing from the United States government. 

During the investigation, NCIS received substantial assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.Release No. 12-085

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