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06-04-03: Four men accused of stealing 200 weapons from local shops
The Daily Standard

    Four Sidney men now face charges in U.S. District Court in Dayton stemming from the theft of more than 200 weapons from gun shops in Mercer, Shelby and Champaign counties. The majority of those handguns were transported to New York and swapped for the drug commonly known as Ecstasy.
    Justin Duckro, 18, 615 St. Marys Ave., and Jeremy Fogt, 24, 321 Grant St., are the latest to be arrested in a lengthy investigation being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with assistance from sheriff's offices in the three counties.
    Arrest warrants were issued earlier for John David Kuehne, 25, 729 W. North St., Sidney, and Nathan Wayne Marlow, 20, 1125 Evergreen St., Sidney. They have been in custody since April 29. Their cohorts were arrested last week.
    The 15-count indictment filed May 27 alleges Kuehne, Fogt and Duckro initiated the conspiracy in November 2002. Duck reportedly solicited the assistance of Marlow the following month in burglarizing three gun shops. Kuehne and Fogt allegedly   transported guns out of state and traded them for the Schedule I drug methylenedioxymethamphetamine known on the street as Ecstasy. Prison possible
    Each defendant is charged with conspiracy, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence. Kuehne and Fogt also face three counts of trading firearms for drugs. Conviction on the first count carries a mandatory five-year sentence to be served consecutively to any other time imposed. Conviction on each of the other two counts carries a 25-year mandatory consecutive sentence.
    The indictment charges Kuehne with three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm with a maximum 10-year sentence, two counts of aiding and abetting theft of firearms, three counts of possession of stolen firearms and one count of receiving stolen property. Fogt is also charged with three counts of possession of stolen firearms. Duckro and Marlow each face one count of trading firearms for drugs and two counts of theft of firearms. All charges, with the exception of conspiracy and swapping guns for drugs, carry maximum 10-year sentences. District court arraignment
    Arraignment is set for June 20 in Dayton with U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose presiding. The four defendants will remain incarcerated during the interim.
    The first burglary occurred Dec. 13 in Shelby County. Fifty-six firearms were taken from Rich-Mart Guns and Ammo near Fort Loramie and transported to New York at various times during the ensuing weeks. On Jan. 5, a Champaign County burglary netted 36 weapons from Craig's Gun Shop in North Lewisburg. These also went to New York and were exchanged for drugs.
    The Mercer County Sheriff's Office responded to a reported breaking and entering at Niekamp Farm & Flea Market near 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. Also listed as missing were 10 silver dollars, a knife, ammunition and gun cleaning supplies.
    The report did not come as a surprise to local detectives Kip Wright and Pat Elking. They had been receiving information from other jurisdictions regarding weapon thefts and the possibility of a ring of thieves operating in the area. Warnings were issued to Niekamp's and Larry's Guns in Celina, the only federal firearms license holders in Mercer County.
    Seven minutes before the break-in at Niekamp's was reported to local authorities, Wright and Elking received a teletype from Shelby County Detective Bill Steinke listing the serial numbers of two semiautomatic handguns found in the trunk of a wrecked car in Sidney. The vehicle, apparently stolen from the mother of one of the four teen-age occupants, had been towed following a Feb. 12 crash and a subsequent search turned up the hidden cache.
    A confidential informant reportedly provided investigators with a videotape of Kuehne taping Marlow with stolen firearms and asking him how it feels to be on "America's Most Wanted," according to a deposition filed by ATF agent Dennis D. Bennett.
    Most of the guns, including the bulk of those taken here in Mercer County, were swapped with a New York man known only as "12 O'Clock." The exchange rate varied from 600 to 1,000 Ecstasy tablets per 30 guns. The remaining local guns 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 a prison sentence in a 1998 gross sexual imposition case. That man in turn knew 12 O'Clock, who is connected to a popular rapper in New York. The rapper apparently needed firearms because he is involved in some kind of conflict with another personality in the rap music field, according to Bennett.
    Weapons taken from Niekamp's have begun to surface in Ohio, New York, Kentucky and Tennessee. More than 30 have been recovered to date. Local authorities are notified as they appear because the serial numbers have been entered into the National Crime Information Center. One Mercer County gun was recovered from the scene of a homicide in New Rochelle, N.Y.
    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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