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The AP is reporting that the Justice Department may be preparing to indict a trio of ex-Blackwater officials on weapons charges, including the company's former president, Gary Jackson. The potential charges are connected to a June 2008 raid on the company's North Carolina compound by federal agents, who seized nearly two dozen automatic weapons from Blackwater's armory. The guns, which included 17 Romanian AK-47s, had been purchased by Blackwater but were technically owned by the local sheriff's office, which had inked an agreement with the company to store the weapons.
The AP reports:
Multiple law enforcement officials familiar with the case said investigators are trying to determine if Blackwater obtained the official letterhead of a local sheriff to create a false justification for buying the guns. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.
Federal law prohibits private parties from buying fully automatic weapons registered after 1986, but does let law enforcement agencies have them.
Reports of weapons-related improprieties have dogged Blackwater for years. In the past, federal investigators have probed whether the company had illegally smuggled guns (and silencers) into Iraq that wound up in the hands of a Kurdish group designated by the US as a terrorist organization. In court documents, two former Blackwater employees also alleged that the company had smuggled contraband weapons, sometimes hiding them in bags of dog food. Last month, a Senate committee revealed that personnel working for a Blackwater-subsidiary in Afghanistan had aquired hundreds of AK-47s and other weapons they were unauthorized to have from an armory that's meant to equip the Afghan National Police. In one case, a Blackwater contractor signed for a trove of guns using the alias Eric Cartman, an apparent reference to the South Park character.