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Ex-Customs officer admits running illegal gun-selling business for two decades

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrest illegal aliens attempting to enter the United States after crossing the Rio Grande River in McAllen. (Ozzy Trevino/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

His job was to enforce the law, but he spent much of the last 20 years breaking it.

A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer has admitted using his badge to illegally sell about 100 firearms, including “off-roster” weapons reserved for police or military, and keeping numerous unregistered machine guns in his Southern California home.

Wei Xu, 56, of Santa Fe Springs, now faces up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to four felonies in Los Angeles federal court on Wednesday, according to the Department of Justice.

Federal prosecutors said the former CBP watch commander launched the illegal scheme in the late 1990s and went on to sell at least 99 firearms without the required federal license over the following two decades.

He “exploited his status as a law enforcement officer” to buy and sell “off-roster” handguns that cannot be sold to the general public, according to a news release.

“Mr. Xu’s public life as a federal officer masked his private greed and disrespect for the law, which he demonstrated through illegal weapons sales, tax evasion, and lying about contacts with foreign nationals,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in the release.

Xu secretly worked as an accounts manager for a China-based auto parts import company, with which he had nearly weekly contacts, but he hid that foreign business venture from the U.S. government and “falsely denied” having any ties with foreign nationals on his security clearance questionnaires, authorities said.

The former officer evaded paying federal taxes on that business by setting up a sham company in Florida, according to the release.

He was arrested in February after selling four firearms to an undercover agent, including an “off-roster” pistol, high-capacity magazines and a short-barreled rifle, the justice department said.

A search of his home turned up more than 250 firearms, which included 41 fully-automatic firearms or machine guns and two short-barreled rifles, all of which were never registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as required by law, according to prosecutors.

Xu, who has been in custody since his arrest, pleaded guilty to unlawfully engaging in the business of dealing in firearms, unlawfully possessing unregistered firearms, tax evasion and making materially false statements to a federal agency.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 14, 2020.


© 2019 New York Daily News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.