ATF Busts Darknet-Based Gun Smuggling Operation

Modelo Super 9mm

Serious question here: why do gun smugglers never try to smuggle any “good” guns? It seems like every time one of these guys gets busted, it’s always over some hunk of junk I’d only be comfortable firing from the other end of a very long piece of string. This time, the perp in question tried to smuggle a Modelo Super 9mm into Australia by artfully embedding it into a hollowed out Xbox game console. The Smoking Gun has more info . . .

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents launched a criminal investigation into the illegal mailings in early-July, after Australian police reported that they had interdicted an Express Mail parcel containing the components of a Modelo Super 9mm pistol.

The disassembled gun was hidden inside the “interior cavity” of an Xbox gaming system, according to an affidavit sworn by ATF Agent David Hayes.

The intended recipient of the handgun was arrested and had his Australian residence searched by police. During an interview with investigators, the man revealed that he had “purchased the firearm off a website called ‘Black Market Reloaded.’”


A search of [another intercepted package] revealed that a disassembled “Uzi style pistol” (with its serial number obliterated) and a “suspected flash suppressor” were contained inside a hollow Xbox console. The package was bound for the United Kingdom. The second Express Mail package, bound for Australia, contained “various firearm parts consisting of a magazine, butt stock and fore stock for an assault rifle” concealed inside a DVD player.

In early-August, another package–headed for Sweden–was seized after it was received at a Bowling Green post office (where a mail clerk identified the shipper as the same man who had sent the two parcels that had been searched weeks earlier). The parcel contained a “metal computer switching power supply box” that contained a disassembled .22 caliber Taurus pistol and magazine.

When you buy something gun-related on the intertubes, there’s usually a rather large warning that pops up about these items being ITAR restricted. Things like scopes, magazines, and other gun parts fall under this federal law which prohibits the items from being imported or exported without approval from the State Department.

Shipping guns to Syrian rebels (or Mexican drug lords)? White House approved. Sending firearms to just about anyone else in the world? Instant trip to the slammer for you, buddy.


  1. avatar sean says:

    The ATF is probably just upset that someone other than themselves were smuggling guns into a foreign country.

    1. avatar Keith M says:

      They don’t like competition.

  2. avatar Mlopilato says:

    Stars most definitely aren’t junk. I trust my life to a Model B Super.

    1. avatar Taro Tsujimoto says:

      Yeah, I was surprised at that assessment, as well.

    2. avatar 16V says:

      I’ve got a 30M that’s a frakkin’ tank. Weighs about as much as one too – but it takes a $5K 1911 to be close to its reliability.

    3. avatar Steve (CT) says:

      Another vote for Stars being decent pistols. They have their eccentricities, but all of mine have great triggers. The Star PD was a very popular compact, lightweight .45 ACP pistol while they were made.

    4. avatar 4strokes says:

      One man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Any of you poor slobs stuck with one of these string-fire-only-hunks-of-junk please send it to me immediately for proper disposal. I have had the pleasure of being up close and personal with over a dozen Modelo/Star guns in the last 40 years, all were well-built weapons.

    5. avatar BillF says:

      Another vote for Star. May be we all just have flukes, but mine is excellent as well.

  3. avatar Swarf says:


    That’s not a gun part, it’s an optical device.

    On another note, I think I got trawled by a fed when I sold a scope on eBay a while back.

    It said right in the ad that I would ship in the contiguous US, but the first hit was a guy asking if I would send it to the Czech Republic or someplace. I told him to punt, but not because I knew about this law.

    Whew. I think I dodged some big trouble and lesson learned for next time.

    1. avatar Roscoe says:

      Yeah, exactly.

      “Stupid is as stupid does.”

      If nothing else, sooner or later Customs will find it. Then you follow the trail backward.

    2. avatar HSR47 says:

      The federal interpretation of ITAR is actually extremely broad. The intent seems to have been to restrict the export of things with *direct* military uses (read: guns, tanks, ammo, etc.) but the interpretation covers things that only have theoretical tertiary military uses like cryptography software (like PGP).

  4. avatar Jeh says:

    It looks like the bastard love child of a Browning Hi-Power and a 1911.

    1. avatar Jim R says:

      That’s pretty much what it is.

    2. avatar sean says:

      Actually decent guns. I bought one a lifetime ago for very little money. It went bang every time the trigger was pulled. I traded it for something else, or sort of regret it.

  5. avatar blakdawg says:

    Color me surprised that a darknet “gun store” actually attempted to complete transactions by mailing guns. I figured they were just black holes for collecting Bitcoins from gullible people and/or an intelligence/LEO sting.

  6. avatar Steve In MA says:

    It’s because the POS pieces still go for four figures in the countries that don’t allow them. a SIG p226 would probably go for something like 3 or 4 grand. (Or so I think)

    1. avatar HSR47 says:

      Actually, I think it’s just purely a matter of demographics.

      Poorer areas tend to have higher crime rates. Therefore, stolen guns tend to reflect this, and as a result tend to be comparatively inexpensive.

  7. avatar dwb says:

    Look, I am always glad to see the criminals smuggling crap. That’s good news. When they banned Saturday night specials, the criminals started toting nicer guns. I wanna see the criminals toting the cheapest blow-up-in-your-face raven arms that they can find. Maybe it will take them out, so I don’t have to. And when it comes time for the Main Event, maybe it will jam or just go “click.” Mine has a big hole in one end that goes boom everytime, so I like the odds when i see criminals with crap.

    1. avatar sean says:

      My brothers are Detroit Police. Ravens still turn up at crime scenes every day. High Points are the popular ghetto guns now. And Ruger P-series. Sigmas as well. But a LOT of High Points.

      1. avatar dwb says:

        ok, so Raven Arms made about 2 million and stopped production in 1991. How many can there possibly be left?

        When people say “they still turn up every day” it makes me think something else is more likely – that they are disappearing from evidence lockers, or buyback guns are ending up back on the street.

        1. avatar Chris Mallory says:

          Raven, Jennings, Byrco, Jimenez, Cobra, Davis.. the little 25 acp is basically the same gun. Or they look enough alike to be the same gun.

    2. avatar BDub says:

      What makes you think the person ordering it was a criminal?

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        Um, that they ordered it.

        1. avatar HSR47 says:

          Reading the post you’re replying to, it seems to me that he was asking about the past, as well as the future intent of the recipient.

          Is it being sent to someone with no criminal history, who only wants it for purposes that we in the truly free portions of the U.S. would consider lawful?

          Is it being sent to someone with an extensive criminal history who wants to use it in the commission of future crimes?

          Morally, there is a difference. I see civil disobedience against unjust laws as both moral and necessary. Criminal action however (in this case, relating to the *use* of a firearm against others, not the mere possession of same) is universally immoral.

      2. avatar dwb says:

        1. “into Austrailia”
        2. smuggling. I don’t care how horrendous it is, us non-criminals still bother with the paperwork.

  8. avatar Chris Mallory says:

    Robertson’s Trading Post in west Tennessee was/is selling bushel baskets of the Stars. Most, if not all, were former Israeli Police weapons. Some of them are C&R eligible.
    Basically steel framed 1911 clones in 9mm and without the grip safety. The Star was a common stand in for the 1911 in movies, since 9mm blanks worked better than 45 ACP blanks.

    1. avatar Taro Tsujimoto says:

      “The Wild Bunch” was one, I believe.

      1. avatar Chris Mallory says:

        The Sand Pebbles and The Getaway, two Steve McQueen films, both used Stars when a 1911 was fired.

    2. avatar Rick says:

      And “Pulp Fiction.”

  9. avatar kg333 says:

    “When you buy something gun-related on the intertubes, there’s usually a rather large warning that pops up about these items being ITAR restricted. Things like scopes, magazines, and other gun parts fall under this federal law which prohibits the items from being imported or exported without approval from the State Department.”

    Considering one of the major darknet sites is the Silk Road, which specializes in selling illegal drugs, I don’t believe a Tor service is going to particularly worried about ITAR or any other laws for that matter. Onion sites aren’t your conventional internet.

  10. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Why Sweden?

    You can get guns legally in Sweden.

    Weird. Maybe the buyer has a rap sheet? Weird.

  11. avatar Closet Gun Nut says:

    Are the trigger pulls on the air soft replicas the same as the real guns?

  12. avatar Piet Padkos says:

    Sending guns to Syria is fine, it’s just far enough to be ‘not our problem’ while still looking good to the politicians and bean counters. And if they should ever decide to turn our guns back at us, they’ll be out of ammo from killing each other, so LOL. 😛

  13. avatar Closet Gun Nut says:

    BTW, leaving a comment using an iPad is not working very well. The page reloads in the middle of typing.

    1. avatar dwb says:

      Android too. There is also an odd stray semicolon that sometimes appears in the top left. Also, all gun porn links to Israeli supermodel pictures. ok, i was kidding, that last part is not a problem.

  14. avatar Mike says:

    Am I the only one who went to see about the websight mentioned in the article?

  15. avatar drewtam says:

    For those who are only vaguely aware of what “darknet”, “onion”, and “tor” networks are…

    Heres the browser, have fun and be safe.

    1. avatar dwb says:

      2 black SUVs at your door in 3..2..

      1. avatar Jesus says:

        I see the police park as well as they shoot.

    2. I was under the impression that project was already compromised and back doored.

    3. avatar 16V says:

      “4Chan Party Van”

  16. avatar happyelf says:

    I miss the old mobile site.

  17. avatar C says:

    Unless they were doing some hellacious volume, these guys are really bad at their jobs with so many shipments getting intercepted.

  18. avatar Southern Cross says:

    Australia is awash with illegally imported guns. One group alone brought in over 200 Glock pistols with the help of the staff at the local post office (who were also a part of the gang). How many other groups are illegally importing firearms, and how many have they brought in? Who knows.

    Of course, the local Greens party is very upset with this focus on their comrades in the criminal fraternity and still insist of local thefts being the sole source of firearms for crooks. Despite overwhelming evidence from customs, federal police, advice from other police, and from examining the seized firearms.

    Thefts from licensed owners have increased, because the police stupidly left a copy of the ENTIRE firearms database as a single MS-Access database file with only rudimentary password protection on the unprotected and unsecured police intranet, for operational convenience. How many “unauthorized” copies were made and how many are now used as shopping lists for criminals? The police response has been to blame the victims (and also charge them) for not properly securing the firearms.

  19. avatar Onion Darknet says:

    I’ve been to that site. A good resource for those looking to smuggle firearms into countries that don’t allow them. If the transaction was done correctly the guy in Australia will be released because there will be no proof he actually ordered it. Same for the guy who shipped it. Luckily I live in the US so I can legally buy firearms and don’t need to risk jail.

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