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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Our History

Machine Guns Historic Case

Internet Arms Trafficking

The Crime and Investigation

In 2002, confidential intelligence sources informed ATF Agents of an Argentinean suspect brazenly selling machineguns, silencers and conversion kits over the Internet. These firearms were being illegally imported into the United States and other countries. ATF Agents quickly established e-mail contact with the suspect and ordered machineguns and silencers, which were mailed disguised as machine parts.

Through innovative investigation techniques, ATF was able to positively identify the suspect and secure search warrants for postal records, electronic financial records and Internet service providers. The investigation concluded that the suspect had been in business since 1999, and had sent or received over 6,500 e-mail messages within a 30-day period. The U.S. Customs Service assisted in this investigation.



Glock Switch

A relatively simple, albeit illegal, device that allows a conventional semi-automatic Glock pistol to function as a fully automatic firearm. The switch is classified as a machinegun under federal law.


The Arrest and Adjudication

ATF Analysts estimated that the suspect sent hundreds of illegal weapons into the United States. In 2003, a nationwide roundup resulted in dozens of arrests and the seizure of 24 machineguns, 16 silencers, six pipe bombs, seven converted Glock handguns, nine Glock converter switches, three short-barreled rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

The suspect was charged with various violations of federal law and the Office of the United States Attorney prepared a request for extradition. The Argentinean government declined this request because, using ATF’s investigative report, Argentinean authorities arrested and jailed the suspect for violations of that country’s own firearm laws.

Kehoe Brothers

The Muellers

In 1996, William and Nancy Mueller and their 8-year old daughter Sarah were brutally murdered. Their handcuffed bodies were found in a lake. Agents later recovered a compatible handcuff key from Chevie Kehoe’s home.



The Crime and Investigation

Brothers Chevie and Cheyne Kehoe, their father, Kirby, and accomplices Daniel Lee and Faron Lovelace were devoted members of the Aryan Peoples’ Republic, a white supremacist organization. They spent the period between 1995 and 1997 engaged in criminal activities that promoted and funded the organization.

Their collective crimes, conducted across a five-state area, included multiple murders, kidnappings, firearms violations, robbery and violent shoot-outs with police, using a portion of the loot to purchase an Idaho property for a training base. In 1996, Chevie Kehoe and Lee robbed and viciously killed a Federal Firearms Licensee, William Mueller, and his family. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies collaborated in a series of investigations culminating with the five suspect’s arrests.

The Arrest and Adjudication

Chevie and Cheyn Kehoe’s mother, in fear for her own life contacted ATF Agents with invaluable information that helped lead to the arrests. She also was an important witness at the subsequential trial. All five defendants were convicted in state or federal courts. Kirby Kehoe pled guilty and received 44 months imprisonment. Cheyne Kehoe got a sentence of 24 years. Chevie Kehoe and Daniel Lee were both convicted of murder, with Kehoe getting life imprisonment and Lee the death penalty. Faron Lovelace was also convicted of murder and sentenced to death.