PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Thomas Harris Jr., 29, of Croydon, PA, was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison, and three years of supervised release for multiple firearms trafficking offenses stemming from his scheme to sell almost 40 guns to a buyer on the island of St. Lucia.
In September 2020, the defendant was charged by Indictment with making false statements to a federal firearm licensee, dealing in firearms without a license, delivery of firearms to a common carrier without written notice, and smuggling goods from the United States. Harris purchased approximately 38 firearms in 12 transactions at two Bucks County gun shops between April 2019 and February 2020, and provided a false address as his place of residence on the required federal forms that he completed during each transaction. The defendant then illegally trafficked the guns to St. Lucia, a sovereign island nation in the West Indies, despite his not having a license to deal in firearms nor a license to export.
One of Harris’s packages to St. Lucia was intercepted by federal agents at the warehouse of a local shipping company. Inside, concealed in household items such as packages of diapers, cat litter and laundry detergent, the agents found seven Glock semiautomatic pistols, one Ruger semiautomatic pistol, two AK-47 pattern pistols, two AK-47 pattern rifles, two AR-15 lower receivers, two AR-15 upper receivers, ten high-capacity Glock ammunition magazines, seven additional assorted ammunition magazines, and 815 rounds of ammunition.
“By shipping high-powered firearms to a foreign nation, the defendant displayed a brazen disrespect for our laws regulating and monitoring the sale of weapons,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Trafficking in firearms overseas is a serious federal offense, and one for which our Office will hold offenders like Harris accountable.”
“Firearms trafficking is at the forefront of ATF’s mission,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “Harris’ sentencing should send the message to criminals that a blatant disregard of federal firearms laws will be investigated jointly by ATF and our local, state, and federal partners.”
“The FBI continues to work with our law enforcement partners in pursuit of criminals whose actions violate our laws and put the citizenry of our country – or any other – in harm’s way,” said Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire. “We have a global reach. It doesn’t matter if you are breaking laws and illegally trafficking guns within your state, within this country, or around the world. We will bring you to justice.”
“Illegally exporting firearms from the United States is a serious violation of our nation’s export control laws and often has dire consequences abroad,” said Jonathan Carson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office. “This case demonstrates the outstanding collaboration between the Office of Export Enforcement and our law enforcement partners to aggressively enforce export violations in the interest of national security in the U.S. and abroad.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph A. LaBar and U.S. Department of Justice National Security Division Trial Attorney Michael E. Eaton.