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Ex-Nogales Border Patrol agent accused of illegally selling hundreds of guns

Illegal weapons confiscated by police are displayed at Chicago police headquarters on May 10, 2018. Findings published Tuesday show that in 2016, gun deaths in just six countries - including the U.S. - made up over half of the world's gun-related deaths. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Suspicious deposits at a Tucson bank led federal investigators to the Rio Rico home of a Border Patrol agent and $300,000 in illegal gun sales, court records show.

Laurence Myers, 54, is accused of selling hundreds of firearms without a license and turning a profit of more than $130,000, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson. A federal grand jury indicted Myers on one count of engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license. Federal prosecutors want Myers to forfeit 343 firearms he sold online and another 207 seized from his home.

Myers joined the Border Patrol in 1988 and at the time of the sales was a supervisory agent in Nogales, according to a sworn affidavit filed in February 2017 by a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

The Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector said Myers is no longer employed at the agency, but did not say when he stopped working and whether he was fired or resigned.

At a status conference Friday, federal prosecutor Lori Price said she is working with defense lawyer Jean-Jacques Cabou to see if they can work out a plea agreement.

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The investigation of Myers began in September 2016 when a Tucson bank alerted the U.S. Attorney’s Office to suspicious activity in Myers’ account, the ATF special agent wrote in the affidavit filed with a search warrant request.

Bank records showed Myers deposited nearly $27,000 in personal checks, money orders and cashier’s checks in June and July 2016. The memo lines of some of the deposited checks referenced firearm models and a firearm auction website.

The ATF checked a federal firearms dealer database and found Myers did not have a license to sell firearms, the agent wrote.

A background update with the Border Patrol on Myers revealed he was in “significant financial debt,” the agent wrote. Part of the debt came from 21 credit cards that led to $3,800 in monthly payments. The update also showed Myers did not disclose any outside employment, as he was required to do.

In November 2016, a firearms dealer in New Mexico told the ATF that Myers was illegally selling firearms online, the special agent wrote.

Myers had 330 transactions on the website from 2009 to November 2016, most of which came after 2012. Nearly all of the $292,000 in sales Myers made on the website were firearms, the special agent wrote.

During the same period, Myers made about 160 purchases worth $139,000. About 70 percent of the purchases were firearms. The affidavit does not make clear what other items were purchased.

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On the website, Myers earned an A-plus rating, with some buyers saying “Larry is a super dude” and calling Myers professional and attentive, the special agent wrote.

Myers continued to sell firearms on the website until February 2017, when he took all of his firearms off the site, the special agent wrote.

ATF agents reviewed Myers’ bank records and found he made $234,000 in firearms-related sales from December 2013 to October 2016. Myers turned a profit of about $132,000 on those sales, according to the affidavit.

Agents searched Myers’ home in February 2017 and seized 207 firearms, as well as documents, computers, and electronic-storage devices, court records show.

Court records show Myers’ trial has been postponed six times and is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 8. On Friday, Magistrate Judge Bruce G. MacDonald urged Price and Cabou to figure out whether that was a realistic trial date. Cabou declined to comment after the hearing.

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© 2018 The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.