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05/07/2009

Wisconsin man sentenced to 4 years for firearms violations

Participated in firearms trafficking scheme to Canada

MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin man was sentenced in federal court Thursday to four years in prison for his involvement in an international firearms trafficking scheme between Canada and the United States.  This sentence resulted from a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Michigan State Patrol and the Ontario Provincial Police in Canada.

Jesse Sundal, 32, of Fort Atkinson, Wis., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb, Western District of Wisconsin, to four years in prison for illegally possessing firearms as an unlawful user of a controlled substance. Sundal pleaded guilty to the offense on Feb. 26.

The investigation began in December 2007, when a firearm with an obliterated serial number was found during a criminal search warrant in Canada.  The firearm's serial number was forensically recovered and eventually traced back to a multiple firearms purchase by Sundal from a Delavan, Wis., gun shop earlier in 2007.

Further investigation revealed that Sundal, a U.S. citizen, was involved in an international firearms trafficking scheme with individuals from Canada.  Sundal purchased firearms in the United States from legitimate gun dealers and then obliterated the serial numbers so they could not be traced back to him.  A Canadian smuggler then traveled to Wisconsin to pick up the firearms from Sundal and transport them to Canada.

On Oct. 6, 2008, a vehicle driven by one of the Canadian gun smugglers was stopped by the Michigan State Patrol.  The trooper located five plastic vacuum-sealed bags in a hidden compartment near the vehicle's gas tank. Each bag contained a pistol with an obliterated serial number and two ammunition magazines.  The Canadian gun smuggler admitted that he picked up the firearms from Sundal and was on his way back to Canada.

In connection with the investigation, federal agents executed a search warrant Oct. 11, 2008, at Sundal's Fort Atkinson, Wis., residence.  They discovered about approximately 22 pounds of marijuana and the tool Sundal used to obliterate the serial numbers on the firearms.  It is illegal to possess firearms with obliterated serial numbers, or to possess firearms while an unlawful user of a controlled substance, including marijuana.

"The public benefits when local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together on these complex international cases," stated Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "ICE remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners on both sides of the border to stem the illegal flow of guns that ultimately endanger the safety and security of our communities."