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The Blotter

The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

February 24, 2010 at 11:55 AM

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PHOTO: 'Toy' rifles seized by federal agents in Tacoma

Posted by John de Leon



U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION PHOTO

One of the 30 toy M-4 automatic rifles that have been seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.


Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Port of Tacoma seized a shipment of 30 toy M-4 automatic rifles that had arrived on Oct. 20 in a 40-foot ocean container.

The shipment's manifest listed the contents as "Toys and Parts" and was shipped from a manufacturer in Taiwan, according to a Customs and Border Protection news release. The rifles were the same size, weight and look of an M-4 automatic rifle, which is used by the U.S. military. The rifles had no serial numbers and did not have an orange-blaze tip which is required for all imported of toy guns.

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) tested the files and determined they were tooled to shoot plastic balls. However, ATF also found that the internal components could easily be refitted with original machine gun components, making the rifles capable of firing live ammunition. ATF lab results indicated the rifle to be a WE-Tech, Model AWSS M4CQBR, Airsoft M-4 copy.

ATF also confirmed the shipment did not arrive with the proper permits to enter the U.S.

The machine guns were turned over to the ATF to be destroyed.

"These rifles could have had far-reaching and potentially devastating ramifications if they had gotten into the hands of individuals who wanted to do harm in the American population", Customs and Border Protection Area Port Director Rolando Suliveras Jr. said in a news release.

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