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“’This is an unusual case,’ said Carlo A. DiCesare, a special assistant U.S. Attorney in Riverside (California) who is prosecuting the case. ‘It was a large number of firearms that were stolen, and they were stolen from a reputable shipping company.’” Yep, I’m a big fan of the Big Brown Truck guys. But you have to wonder just how unusual this kind of thing really is. I was in Springfield at Smith & Wesson this past week and the PR firm that organized the event shipped a supply of ammo in advance to feed the guns we media types would be firing. One of the boxes, though, went missing . . .

When it was finally located, two of three cases of ammo in the package were gone. Wonder how that happened.

But back to the case at hand. As is reporting,

A Southern California driver for United Parcel Service was arrested Friday, accused of stealing dozens of guns bound for a Turner’s Outdoorsman store in Rancho Cucamonga.

Curtis Hays, 36, allegedly funneled 72 weapons, including 12-gauge shotguns and .45-caliber pistols, to an associate for sale on the region’s bustling black market for illegal firearms.

Of course, bad guys will always find a way to get guns. Even in the gun control paradise that is California.

“Certainly there is a huge market out there,” DiCesare said of illegal gun sales in Southern California. “What the full extent of it is – I don’t know if anyone knows.”

We can think of someone with intimate knowledge of gun trafficking in the Golden State who might be able to help AUSA DiCesare quantify that.

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  1. Econ 101 says in a prohibition market, police and people involved with the restricted product will sell it under the table to meet pent up demand.

    Want to reduce gun violence? Dispense with the FFL system/state roster and let anyone from Joe’s Crab Shack to Sears sell guns.

    • Exactly, the only reason any “black market” can exist is when a restricted product exists. There is no black market for paper towels or bars of soap. Let go of the restrictions and the sales come out into the open.

    • How does allowing every gangbanger in the city to buy a gun out of a vending machine have any effect on “gun violence”? Guns are already available, legally or not, virtually everywhere. Criminals commit gun violence, regardless of the FFL system.

      I’m no fan of the FFL scheme and I would like to see it abolished, too, for a lot of reasons; but fanciful expectations of reductions in so-called “gun violence” isn’t one of them.

      • Well,for one the thugs wouldn’t bother stealing our weapons to fund their drug habits. It would be like breaking into a car to steal a stick of gum.

        That removes one of the pillars of the anti gun movement,which is that if law abiding people don’t own guns low level bad guys don’t have an easy way to get armed.

        • “Well,for one the thugs wouldn’t bother stealing our weapons to fund their drug habits. It would be like breaking into a car to steal a stick of gum”

          Bullsh!t. A quality handgun costs as much if not well more than a good smartphone.

          And stolen guns and smartphones are easy to fence.

        • You do know that druggies will smash windows just to get the loose change in the ashtray or center console, right? Not to mention to steal the entire car? Beyond that, this UPS driver is alleged as well to have stolen cell phones and jewelry, too, both of which are items readily available already, and they still have value to criminals.

          You’re conflating several issues here. There’s criminal violence in illegally acquiring guns. That will continue regardless of any federal hoops in buying guns through FFL’s, because guns have value of their own and not simply artificial value imparted by the FFL scheme. The proof? Look at all of the very nice guns on armslist and other sites offered by non-FFL’s at prices substantially higher than that of a pack of Trident.

          Then there’s illegal violence committed with guns. That’s its own issue. Now, I’m not saying that more FFL type restrictions would ameliorate that problem, but neither would I agree that fewer restrictions would, either. I’m saying the FFL system is largely irrelevant to criminal activity because criminals are going to do what they’re going to do regardless of proper purchasing channels.

          Then there’s drug violence you mention, which is yet another separate issue and one which predates the FFL system. So I don’t even see how that’s relevant FFL’s.

          FFL’s should be abolished because tge system imposes undue restrictions on citizens’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It helps transform a right into a privilege, which is abhorrent on the face of it, and at its core dangerous to our country. None of that has much to do with common street crime, though.

        • Hey, don’t laugh. There are thieves who are exactly that stupid.

          While I lived in the LA area, I had my pickup broken into and the thieves availed themselves of a wool serape I bought in Mexico for $8. Oh, and they tossed my glovebox and a toolbox in the truck (with about $300 in sockets, ratchets and wrenches in there). They took only the wool serape.

          They left a an unopened roll of first class stamps (at that time, $27.00 in postage) sitting in plain sight on the dashboard.

    • What prohibition and what restrictions? If these guns were head to a Turner’s in California, they are legal for any nonprohibited person to purchase.

  2. There is a reason that UPS requires handguns to go next day… that way they can fleece the crap out of us when we need repairs and it limits the amount of time their minimum wage thieves have to pocket the gun.

    Maybe if we paid people a decent wage for a fairly difficult job they wouldn’t risk their job to screw people…. naaaaah.

    • A decent wage? Really? The average UPS Driver salary is $74,326 per year. Minimum wage my @ss.

      • If that number is true it includes their long distance CDL drivers, which means the average local driver is probably barely pushing 40k. Not a terrible wage but they also work 10 – 12 hour days.

        • UPS doesn’t have true “long distance” drivers… the drivers are all union and have great pay and benefits.

      • +1. And they are unionized. The thief will probably get a federally subsidized lawyer paid by the union.

        • i am a ups union member. this driver will not get his job back, nor will he get representation by his local teamsters. this is a serious charge and there’s no backing him up on it

    • reports UPS drivers make an average of $27.66/hour. Even seasonal drivers are making $15+ per hour. True, they do work a lot of hours and they do rack up $70K+ per year. So what? They LINE up to apply to work at UPS and maybe get the privilege of waiting years before they’re even offered a route. Meanwhile, they’re loading trucks back at the depot for the next half decade or so. Nobody’s forcing anyone to do anything and nobody’s going home broke.

      There are a helluva lot more people out there doing a more difficult job for a lot less money than UPS drivers. I’m not disrespecting UPS drivers, because in my many years of experience working with that company, they’re tops. Neither am I letting this apparently thieving UPS driver off the hook for his alleged crimes with any poverty excuse.

    • Vhyrus, you’re making an unjustified assumption, that well-paid people do not steal and that poorly paid employees do. It isn’t true. The second part is proven every day in America. The first part? Do some business with Wall Street.

      • Exactly so. The theft perpetrated by Wall Street since 2008 is the single largest act of theft in human history.

        If we had any justice system at all, investment bankers would have been dragged out of their offices at bayonet point, thrown up against a wall and machine-gunned to death, then their corpses would be tied to light poles on Wall Street to remind the next generation what happens to grifters and thieves.

    • everybody from the part time employees to the full time drivers makes more than a livable wage. the avg ups driver brings home $65k after taxes a year with incredible health benefits. job security is top notch. the only negative is the absolute bull that they have to deal with from the management personnel. and believe me, it’s a lot of bull every single day. they find any and every way possible to degrade, belittle, and verbally abuse you in every way possible just because they think that they are paying you such good money and that there’s always somebody else waiting to take your spot. this driver had absolutely no excuse to do what he did. he’s a criminal plain and simple. and he does not represent the rest of the hard working members of the ups group

      • More money is always better, especially when you think you are so sly you could never be caught.

  3. Gun control fails because of the black market.
    Marihuana control fails because of the black market.
    Cuban cigar control fails because of the black market.
    Cocaine control fails because of the black market.
    Prostitution control fails because of the black market.

    If their is demand for a service or a product, people will set us businesses to meet that demand. Laws can’t stop black market commerce. Since that is reality, it behooves us to respect honest people being armed.

    • Ahem. Laws create black market commerce.

      Get rid of the laws, and you subsequently get rid of the black market. Econ 101 and common sense.

      • Just look at Alcohol Prohibition as a really good example. A lot of shoot outs over alcoholic beverages these days.

  4. That UPS guy stole all my guns. Every last one. Hear that, NSA intern reading TTAG? I have no guns anymore because of that rat b*stard.

    • Hay wait a minute, they were all mine. Plus 100,000 rounds of ammo he stole. Oh wait I live in Washington State. Oh well guess I can’t make a claim. lol 🙂

  5. Aw c’mon…live Leeland alone. Maybe he was working for Holder “undercover”. Ya never know…

    • Leland was involved in a scheme to import automatic weapons into a New Jersey port for transshipment to foreign countries, not the US black market. His co-defendants, however, may have a lot of information on the Chinese underground sales of such black market firearms…

    • I think you and others are being a bit tough on UPS. Their drivers are saints compared to the staff handling baggage at JFK airport.

      • I think you and others are being a bit tough on UPS. Their drivers are saints compared to the staff handling baggage at JFK airport TSA.


  6. I’m a UPS employee. Theft is a HUGE problem! What is missing in this article is that we are all tempted by the society we live in. Right and wrong becomes muddled. We hear of corruption at every level of government and business. So one might ask them self why not?

    Locally we handle literally semi loads of Browning products and service some large retail and wholesale outlets. Never a problem as long as company procedures are followed.

    Several times we have had ‘The Feds’ snooping around. People try to ship drugs, you name it, and I’m sure many if not most shipments ‘sneak by.’

    This guy almost certainly had buyers lined up or the risk would have been to great. We will probably never hear of the details after the investigation.

    I work hard hours….close to 50 a week. UPSers are paid well and have a retirement that is to envy by most, but there are always those that think hard work is not the way to the top……but theft is.

    This is not an instance of a problem with UPS but instead a societal problem that affects us in many ways.

    I proud to work for Big Brown!

    • I used to fly cargo for a UPS contractor… every now and then one of our pilots would have a scheduled stop at Prescott, AZ on the way back to Phoenix from Kingman. It was usually a large shipment from the Ruger factory. Boxes and boxes of firearms. They ended up suspending the shipments with UPS for a while because somewhere between the factory and the destination they lost quite a few of those boxes. Luckily I never flew that run and didn’t have to be involved in the fallout. I heard the line pilot was interviewed by a couple of humorless federal agents, but it ended up being a guy at the sort facility.

  7. I have an idea. Tape or write in permanent marker on the inside of the box the exact contents and amount. Include a letter that says something like “here is a copy of the item list so you know that you get everything”. Then it will be extremely obvious to the thief that their crime will not go unnoticed.

    • It should be pretty obvious already, that if you steal guns this way, someone’s going to come looking for them. We’re not talking about a pair of ice skates or a couple of books from Amazon. It’s a serialized item that is closely tracked from the manufacturer to the retail buyer, so when it goes missing in the middle of that chain, cops are going to be involved pretty quickly.

  8. I’m only surprised he was this stupid. All of those packages are bar code labelled and tracked by scanning at each leg of their trip. Nobody’s just blowing off a gun shipment and letting its loss slide by with an “Oh well, guess it got lost in the mail……”

    Every one of those shippers will have sent the consignee the electronic advance shipment notice. Even for less sophisticated outfits, whose ASN’s aren’t deposited directly into their own supply chain application, there’s at least an email sent with the tracking number.

    Everyone, especially retail outlets expecting orders from firearm wholesalers, is going to follow up on those delayed/missing shipments and those trails will lead directly to this guy. This guy is a special kind of stupid.

    • In this day and age of omnipresent data collection and computer-monitored production the only thing which can be safely stolen is the data itself, apparently. I look forward to the day when that comes to an end.

    • It seems like today, tossing in a tiny GPS beacon to every 10th box would not be prohibitive, and after imprisoning a hundred people or so, I’d bet thefts would decrease noticeably.

  9. I want the S.O.B. FEDEX driver that stole my gen 1 glock NYPD issued #36.
    I sent it overnight the 6hour drive to GA. The counter guy told the big rig it scanned leaving here & arriving 60 miles away then it vanished. Found out from my brother who retired from them 2011 that the people involved got promoted even with a cloud. They paid me “fair value” $450 even though it was insured for $1,000 & Glock sent a letter stating the historical value alone was a grand. That is why every armorer course available I take. I had ammo left in the rain, shipments that the driver signed my name & came back & stole on video all from Brown Trucks.
    Anything I need to ship get my FFL to send Priority Mail. Why they can send & we can not is stupid.

  10. I load trucks for UPS. I see long, conspicuous boxes marked “Remington” and “Ruger” and heavy-as-hell cases marked “Winchester” and “Federal” all damn day. Theft is a big problem, but I suspect drivers do it more than loaders like myself, as drivers are left alone with the package for extended periods of time. I watched a driver stop his truck before making the turn into the security check-point at the hub, get out, walk a duffel bag to his car in the adjoined parking lot, and then get back in his truck. It was about 10 at night and sketchy as all get out. I should have said something, we get up to $5000 for any information about theft.

  11. Well, California duh. But in places like FL and TX, guns are as common deliveries as junk mail 🙂

    • Damn right! The UPS guy just dropped off a pair of rifles at my house this week. Gotta love that Curio and Relic license! 🙂

  12. Illegal gun sales in Kommifornia?!? Inconceivable! That doesn’t happen over there… the Wicked Senate Witch of the West said so!!

    LOL! 😉

  13. I was shorted some 556 ammo from a Cabela’s bulk ammo can once (PMC stuff around 60 rounds) when I called CS, the lady wasn’t surprised at all.

  14. Next Calif. can pass a law that says everyone at UPS must pass a NICS check. That will solve the problem…. the Holy Grail that is UBC and all….

  15. I had a gun stolen while being shipped via UPS. I was sending a Glock 23 back to have the brand new “perfect” gun fixed. Only an empty box made it to Glock. I filed a claim with UPS and called back the next day to ensure they actually initiated the claim. You guessed it, they showed no record of the claim so I had to file it again. It took 30 days to get my money.

    • They are very slippery almost arrogant in there system. No man stupid enough to run around in a Canadian Winter in cargo shorts would do anything unlawful. If you have an issue and approach management watch out for the backpeddling and denial even before you have stated your situation.

  16. We’re forced to ship guns next day air so UPS and Fedex employees have less time to steal them? Is that
    about right?

    • Yea, that’s about what I’ve been told by the local UPS/FedEx offices as a FFL. Their policy is for handguns to go 2nd day air.

  17. When I ship guns (which I try my damnedest to not do often), I try to put it in a non-descript box where even the size says “this isn’t a gun.” I also insure the box well. I let my local terminal know that if the box goes missing, I’ll be calling the ATF and reporting a stolen gun (which I have to do as a FFL) and the local terminal will be getting the call from our ATF agents.

    So far… I haven’t had any problems. Then again, I don’t do much business along the southern tier of the US where the Mexicans are playing their reconquista games.

    The worst carrier, IMO, is UPS. Let’s put gun theft aside for a moment while we just talk about the union attitude that infects companies that deal with the public. Whenever there is a union employee in a customer-facing job, the results are going to come out with some seriously bad apples who flaunt the system. UPS is no exception. I’ve seen UPS drivers drunk on the job, I’ve seen them leave shipments for ranches in the pickup trucks of neighboring ranches that just happened to be in town, I’ve seen packages that had been thrown into yards or inside barns when the manifest clearly said “signature required,” electronics left out in the rain, you name it.

    We finally got this prize of a UPS driver removed from the route in our area of Nevada, but only after the biggest shipping business in the area (who could fill up a UPS truck by themselves on most days) said that they were going to take all their business over to FedEx. The UPS driver was moved to another route, but never fired. He should have been fired for drinking on the job, at the very least.


    “The labeling and outer box markings on all firearms shipments should not identify the contents as containing a firearm. Labeling, including the shipper’s and consignee’s abbreviated names on the shipping label or air shipping document, must be non-descriptive.”

    You’d have to be pretty in-tune to know what was in the boxes in the truck. According to the above doc, you can’t have branding or labeling on the boxes that would imply there’s a gun or ammunition inside.

      • Yup. I have to tell the common carrier at point of check-in what is in the package if it is a gun, powder, primers, etc. The latter have to go via ground and hazmat fees apply.

        The whole deal makes me cringe when working on higher value guns, where the insurance company would probably want to get into a pissing match with me (or the gun’s owner) over the actual value of the gun.

  19. Somebody should check eric holder’s office or maybe ATF in Phoenix for the missing weapons. Although it may be too late and ATF already has shipped them to the drug cartel.

  20. A while back, I placed orders for cases of .45 and 9 mm ammo, which was delivered a couple days apart by the same UPS driver. The first delivery was the .45; a box had broken open and had been contained as best he could. Two days later, when he delivered the 9mm, he handed me 3 loose .45 cartridges that he found rolling around at the end of the first day. No complaints here…

  21. You know what I think when I see Brown! I have had issues with UPS delivery people some are very deceitful. Like saying they stopped by when my son is home with his caregiver most days. Some are good and some are bad. I have issues with the way firearms are delivered anywhere the opportunity for theft is high as the handling system is obvious to all what is being shipped, it should be made more secure.

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