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Navy SEAL Accused of Weapons Smuggling Released on Bond

A Navy SEAL has been accused of bringing weapons into the United States from Afghanistan or Iraq. He faces federal weapons charges.

Prosecutors accuse the man of smuggling 80 AK-47 rifles from Afghanistan or Iraq, including Iraqi 7.62 mm assault rifles that would be difficult to trace. They also claim he smuggled in Ruger pistols of the type used by U.S. military police.

According to the criminal complaint, he brought the weapons back to the United States after his 2009 tour in Iraq. With the help of two others, he allegedly earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from weapons sales. Prosecutors allege he sold 32 of the weapons to an undercover agent who posed as a buyer for someone in Mexico, a country that has been rocked by internal fighting between drug cartels and the government.

Prosecutors wanted to deny the defendant bail, calling him a danger to the community and a flight risk. However, the defendant received an unprecedented show of support from his military comrades. A Navy commander and about 20 SEALs packed Magistrate William Gallo's courtroom to show their support.

Magistrate Gallo, a former military judge who served 27 years with the Marine Corps remarked "Rarely does someone's commander come in [to the courtroom] to support one of the troops," Gallo said. He added, "That means you might be worth taking a risk on, even though these charges are serious."

Magistrate Gallo ordered the defendant released on $150,000 bond, but kept the defendant in custody pending an appeal. After a transfer of the case, U.S. Magistrate Peggy Leen approved his release, but on the condition that he remains on base and submits to electronic monitoring.

Sources:

San Jose Mercury News, "Navy SEAL accused of weapon smuggling still jailed," Julie Watson, 11/12/2010

United Press International, "SEAL charged in arms deal back on base," 11/24/2010

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