News and Press Releases

Three Men, Including U.S. Navy Seal, Arrested for Unlawfully Trafficking in Machine Guns

November 4, 2010

Las Vegas, Nev. – Three men, including an active duty U.S. Navy SEAL, have been arrested for conspiring to engage in prohibited firearms trafficking for allegedly selling machine guns and other firearms to an undercover law enforcement officer in Nevada and Colorado, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Nicholas Bickle, 33, of San Diego, Richard Paul, 34, of Durango, Colorado, and Andrew Kaufman, 36, of Las Vegas, were arrested yesterday in their respective cities of residence. Paul appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Durango, Colorado, yesterday afternoon, and was temporarily detained pending a detention hearing at 3:30 p.m. today. Kaufman is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge George W. Foley in Las Vegas at 3:00 p.m. today. Bickle is scheduled to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in San Diego today.

The men are charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States between June 22 and October 28, 2010, specifically unlawfully engaging in firearms dealing without having paid a special tax; possessing a machinegun which was not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record; and transferring an unregistered machinegun.

The defendants were arrested following a five-month investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), in which an undercover ATF Task Force Officer purchased 18 machineguns and 14 other firearms from the defendants in Las Vegas, and Durango, Colorado, and Bayfield, Colorado.

According to the criminal complaint, a cooperating individual advised the investigating authorities that the machineguns were smuggled into the United States by special forces military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The complaint states that defendant Bickle is a U.S. Navy SEAL assigned to a unit in the San Diego area. An ATF lab technician identified a number of the machineguns as containing a mark used by the Iraqi military to signify ownership.

If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and a $250,000 fine.

The case is being investigated by ATF, NCIS, and the LVMPD, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Drew Smith and J. Gregory Damm.

The public is reminded that a criminal complaint is a preliminary charging document and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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