Seizure of 7,000 Stolen Weapons Leads to Gun Charges
The Chesterfield, SC Sheriff’s Police got more than it bargained for recently, after officers traveled to a suspect’s house to serve him a subpoena for a recent drug-related arrest when they noticed stolen items in his front yard. After comparing the stolen property with reports of stolen items to the Chesterfield Sheriff’s Office, deputies raided the home and discovered at least 7,000 stolen firearms – no one is completely clear on the number yet. The suspect faces federal-level felony gun charges.
“None of us have ever seen anything anywhere close to this,” said Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks. “No telling how many break-ins this will help wrap up.”
“There were so many guns we quit counting after a while,” he added.
Earlier in the week, the 51-year-old suspect was arrested in North Carolina and charged with trafficking heroin and opium. After law enforcement discovered the stolen property, they raided the suspect’s home and discovered somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 stolen guns. Over 100 law enforcement officers reported to the scene, and 20 officers are processing theft claims against the stolen guns. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Department (SLED) plans to send an additional 20 officers to the North Carolina/South Carolina border town to help process the evidence.
The suspect faces serious felony gun charges among other criminal charges.
Brooks said, “(he) looks like a gun hoarder to be honest with you.” The sheriff added that 99.9% of the guns were hunting rifles and shot guns.
Law enforcement also discovered stolen chainsaws and a welder sitting in the suspect’s yard “in plain sight.” The stolen firearms had apparently been kept unused for years.
“There’s no evidence that he even used them,” Brooks said. “There’s no evidence that he was selling them – he just wanted them. His house looked like that hoarders program on TV.”
Although the suspect faces gun charges with steep criminal penalties, Brooks believes that the suspect bought the guns for cheap off of other thieves. While the suspect may have known that the guns were stolen or came from other illegal sources, the black market provides inexpensive firearms, which may have allowed the suspect to satisfy his urge to own them.
“They steal this stuff from homes, or hunting lodges or cabins, and sell it for $100 a pistol,” Brooks said.
The suspect, however, is not likely to be let off as innocent. Brooks said the suspect has a “lengthy record” in Pageland, where he has lived for over 30 years. He and Brooks have had several run-ins due to criminal charges in the past. The suspect and his father used to run a liquor store in the town, which Brooks said had been linked to numerous reports of stolen goods.
Warrants related to the gun charges have been draw up so officers can continue to search the suspect’s home for stolen property, and begin the search of his liquor store and a farm that he owned at one time.
“There were five sheriffs standing around – all of us with at least 25 years of experience – and none of us have ever seen anything like this,” Brooks said. “The SLED agents had never seen anything like this … This investigation is far from over.”