Agents seize Blackwater firearms
News Observer (2008-06-26) Jay Price
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Agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have confiscated nearly two dozen automatic rifles from Blackwater Worldwide, the private security contractor and firearms training company in Moyock, N.C.
The move came two days after a story in The News & Observer raised questions about the legality of Blackwater's deals to buy the guns for the Camden County Sheriff's Department. The security firm kept the rifles at its giant firearms training facility, and used them in training law enforcement officers and members of the military.
All told, Blackwater bought 17 Romanian-made AK-47 assault rifles and 17 Bushmaster M-16-style rifles for the sheriff's department. That was nearly enough assault rifles for Camden's 19 deputies to carry two apiece, but none of the deputies were qualified to use AK-47s, and they only shot them at Blackwater, Sheriff Tony Perry said in an interview last week.
Perry said the AK-47s and five of the Bushmasters were stored at Blackwater, while his department kept 12 Bushmasters.
Company spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said ATF agents came to Blackwater Tuesday and took all the rifles there owned by Camden.
"It was not a raid," she said. "We were cooperative."
She said there is nothing illegal about the company's contract with Camden County. Some of the same ATF agents who took the guns had visited Blackwater before, and audited the same guns without finding any problems, Tyrrell said.
"As a company that is fully licensed to sell, provide training on, or even manufacture weapons -- including machine guns -- we have worked closely with the ATF to ensure we are in compliance with all applicable federal firearms laws," according to an e-mail statement she released. "We look forward to cooperating with the government to resolve this allegation."
The Raleigh office of the ATF referred questions about the case Thursday to the U.S. Attorney's office. A spokeswoman there declined comment, saying that she could not confirm or deny any investigation that might be pending.
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