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|05-01-03: Arrests made for guns stolen locally
|Law officers believe weapons may have been used in crimes
By MARGIE WUEBKER
The Daily Standard
Charges have been filed in U.S. District Court in Dayton against two
Shelby County men for stealing more than 200 weapons from gun shops in Mercer, Shelby and
Champaign counties and then selling them for illegal drugs in other states.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sharon L. Ovington on Wednesday issued arrest
warrants for John David Kuehne, 25, 729 W. North St., Sidney, and Nathan Wayne Marlow, 20,
1125 Evergreen St., Sidney. They are to be held without bond pending the outcome of a
preliminary hearing set for 10:30 a.m. Friday.
The charges of conspiring to burglarize firearms from three federal
firearms license holders, aiding and abetting the transfer of firearms for drugs and for
being felons in possession of firearms carry sentences in excess of 10 years.
The Mercer County Sheriff's Office responded to a reported breaking and
entering at Niekamp Farm & Flea Market, U.S. 127 and Olding Road, St. Henry, on the
morning of Feb. 13. Someone had pried open a back door on a converted poultry barn that
houses the gun shop.
Missing from the premises were 113 semiautomatic handguns and a
.12-gauge shotgun, reportedly taken from displays and safes at the business. Ten silver
dollars and a knife also were taken from a display area. The manager indicated some
ammunition and gun cleaning supplies also appeared to be missing.
The breaking and entering did not take local detectives Kip Wright and
Pat Elking by surprise. They had been receiving information from other jurisdictions
regarding weapon thefts and the possibility of a ring of thieves operating in the area.
Consequently, the sheriff's office warned both federal firearms license holders in Mercer
County, Neikamp's and Kremer's Guns, 123 Hamilton St., Celina.
The Shelby County Sheriff's Department was investigating the Dec. 12
theft of 56 firearms from Rich-Mart Guns and Ammo near Fort Loramie. Champaign County
deputies also had an unsolved case on their hands involving the theft of 35 handguns from
Craig's Gun Shop in North Lewisburg.
During numerous interviews conducted in Shelby County, Wright and
Elking learned the suspects had visited Niekamp's prior to the actual theft to familiarize
themselves with the surroundings. Their return visit occurred at some point between Feb. 9
"We're talking about handguns in rather compact boxes and not
rifles or shotguns in bigger cases," Wright told The Daily Standard. "They
simply loaded the weapons into the trunk and backseat and went on their merry way back to
Weapons taken from the area businesses have begun to surface throughout
the state, along with in New York, Kentucky and Tennessee. Wright likens the growing
circle to the ripples formed when a stone is cast into the lake.
Marlow has admitted making multiple trips to New York to dispose of
guns from the three break-ins, according to a deposition filed in federal court by Dennis
D. Bennett, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Sixty guns
from the Mercer County business were taken there on one of the trips. The firearms were
exchanged with someone known only as "12 O'Clock" for the drug Ecstasy at the
rate of 600 to 1,000 pills per 30 guns. Other local guns reportedly were sold to a man
known only as Craig, who transported them to Kentucky.
Wright describes the distribution network as a food chain of sorts,
with multiple tiers feeding on each other. Kuehne reportedly met a contact while serving
time in prison. He in turn knew 12 O'Clock, who "was connected to a popular rapper in
New York and needed firearms because he was in some kind of conflict with another
rapper," Bennett stated in the deposition.
"It is very difficult to register guns in New York and that's
where the big cry for elicit guns is coming from," Elking said.
The serial numbers of all the stolen weapons have been entered into the
National Crime Information Center. Local authorities will be notified as the handguns
surface or in the event they are used in the commission of crimes. One Mercer County gun
was recovered from the scene of a homicide in New Rochelle, N.Y., although detectives are
not sure whether it was in the possession of the victim or the shooter.
"We have recovered more than 30 to date," Wright said.
"I suspect our guns will be turning up for sometime to come."
A cooperative effort led to the federal charges, which detectives
believe, are merely the first with more to come in the months ahead. In addition to
authorities in Shelby and Champaign counties, the local detectives also worked with
special agents from ATF offices in Toledo and Dayton.
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