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Local Marines Implicated in Stolen Weapons Ring

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Military ammunition such as this was recovered in a nationwide raid.
RALEIGH — Raids across the country have turned up stolen military weapons andexplosives. FBI agents have arrested six Marines from Camp Lejeune andseven other people from North Carolina.

FBI and ATF agents say the arrests took place in all three judicial districtsof North Carolina, including at least one man in our area identified as Harold Gustav Coach of Raeford North Carolina. Federal agents also raidedthe Massachusetts home of a Marine recently transferred from Camp Lejeune.

The FBI, ATF and Naval Criminal Investigators have charged the Marinesand civilians with trafficking in stolen weapons.

"You have firearms and ammunition such as an M79 grenade launcher,"explains ATF agent, Mark Logan, "and the Chinese manufacturedsemi-automatic version of the AK-47 converted to a fully-automatic machinegun."

Some North Carolina military installations lead the nation in reports oflost and stolen weapons. Last year WRAL reported a computer analysis offive years worth of military records showed 37 instances of weapons lostor stolen at Fort Bragg, compared with 28 at Camp Pendleton, 25 at CampLejeune, 25 at Fort Hood and 23 at Fort Campbell.

General Accounting Office investigators found it easy to find military weapons at gun shows which should be available "only in the military supplysystem."

A former weapons dealer convicted of dealing in stolen weapons told WRALit was common to see military weapons at gun shows.

"They fall in the same packaging the military uses," says Greg Preuss. "Itwas made for them, given away, shipped back here and used for commercialsales."

The military says it takes precautions to avoid theft by keeping track ofempty cases. But the General Accounting Office report concluded thatfrequently the military "did not know (when) C-4 had been lost or stolen."

A Fort Bragg spokesman says there is no indication that any of the weaponsseized in today's raid came from Fort Bragg. Federal Agents have dubbedthis case "Operation Long Fuse" and while they say the undercover part ofthe investigation is over, they say the operation will continue.