Local News

Raleigh native charged with smuggling guns to England

Posted July 29, 2010 12:57 p.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2010 6:33 p.m. EDT

— Federal authorities have charged a former Raleigh man with buying a cache of weapons in North Carolina and illegally taking them to England aboard commercial flights, according to warrants unsealed Thursday.

U.S. Magistrate William Webb ordered that Steven Neal Greenoe be detained, ruling that he posed a flight risk and a danger to the community. Greenoe, who grew up in Raleigh, is a former Marine who now lives in England.

British authorities investigating illegal gun sales tipped off agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on July 19 about a possible link to Greenoe. They had linked three Glock handguns with missing serial numbers that had been sold to an undercover officer to a purchase Greenoe made in Raleigh on Feb. 17.

ATF agents determined that Greenoe had legally purchased 60 handguns and one shotgun since mid-February from shops in Raleigh, Garner, Wendell, Asheboro and Concord, according to court documents. Within days of several of the purchases, he traveled from Raleigh-Durham International Airport through Atlanta to Manchester, England.

After keeping Greenoe under surveillance last weekend, an ICE agent and an ATF agent on Sunday pulled his luggage off a Delta Airlines flight to New York and found 16 disassembled pistols and 32 ammunition magazines. Documents in the luggage described the gun parts as "commercial and engineering samples" that were "inert and non-working."

Authorities charged him with trying to carry the firearms to England without an export license and with not declaring to Delta staff that he had firearms in his checked bags.

Greenoe told investigators that he works as an international security consultant and was trying to outfit his employees with quality weapons for assignments in hazardous areas, such as pirate-infested waters off eastern Africa.

Transportation Security Administration agents at RDU told federal authorities that they had found disassembled firearms in Greenoe's checked baggage on a May flight to Atlanta. At the time, they said, Greenoe told TSA officials and airport police that he was a salesman who had just visited a gun show in Raleigh, and they allowed him to proceed, not realizing he was headed overseas.

There was no indication in the court documents that TSA screeners noted any weapons in his luggage on other flights.

TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz declined to discuss the case, except to note that the disassembled handguns didn't pose a threat to passengers on the flight. Screeners alert the airline and law enforcement when they come across undeclared firearms in checked luggage, she said.