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01/26/2011

Canadian convicted on weapons charges and lying to border officers

SEATTLE - A federal jury convicted a resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, on five counts related to the trafficking and illegal possession of firearms, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Oliver King, who is also known as Hamid Malekpour, 35, was arrested by HSI agents on May 19, 2010, in Ferndale, Wash., after traveling from Canada to McMinnville, Ore., and back to Fernadale over a two-day period. At the time of his arrest, he had 21 weapons in his possession.

Prosecutors brought five charges against King including unlawful dealing in firearms, being a non-immigrant alien in possession of firearms, and three counts of making false statements to a government agency. The jury deliberated five hours before reaching its guilty verdict.

According to court documents, King repeatedly lied to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers when he entered the United States from Canada. For example, on May 18, 2010, King told the CBP officer at the Peace Arch port of entry in Blaine, Wash., that he was picking up his wife at a Target store in Bellingham, Wash.

Instead, King drove to McMinnville Hunting and Police Supply, a storefront in Oregon, and picked up boxes of firearms and ammunition. He had established this business with a U.S. citizen, but hid his ownership role from regulators. As a non-immigrant alien, he is prohibited from possessing firearms.

The next morning, King took several boxes of weapons and ammunition from the store and put them into his vehicle and drove to a storage facility in Ferndale. When he arrived, he was met by HSI agents who questioned him and arrested him shortly afterwards.

During closing arguments to the jury, Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Roe noted that King's arsenal of guns was in "full array" and on display for the jury. She added, "Mr. King's deception is just as big and obvious in this case, as the guns,"

"The defendant in this case illegally possessed weapons, trafficked them without a license and deceived investigators to cover up his actions," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of HSI in the Pacific Northwest. "HSI will continue to address illegal trafficking of weapons both domestically and internationally."

King faces up to 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced April 11 by U.S. District Judge James L. Robart. HSI was joined in the investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.