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May 19, 2022Sells, AZ, United StatesFirearms, Ammunition and Explosives, National Security

Federal grand jury convicts man of impeding and threatening federal officers at the port of entry following HSI Sells investigation

TUCSON, Ariz. – Yesterday, a Las Vegas, Nevada, area man was found guilty by a federal grand jury of smuggling goods from the United States and impeded and threating a federal officer following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assisted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

John Milton Lee, 62, of Las Vegas, Nevada, is scheduled for sentencing on August 3, before United States District Judge James A. Soto.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Lee traveled from Arizona to Mexico on Nov. 1, 2019, but Mexican authorities returned him to the port almost immediately. When Lee returned to the Lukeville Port of Entry, he refused to provide identification. At secondary inspection, Lee would not exit his vehicle and refused inspection. Instead, Lee told CBP officers that they could not touch him or anything in his vehicle. Lee then reached into his jacket and threatened the officers that he “didn’t want it to go there.” Although Lee never pulled out a gun, officers could see the handle of the firearm in his jacket. Over the next hour, Lee engaged in an armed standoff with five CBP officers. The officers eventually convinced Lee to exit his vehicle, but he still refused to surrender. After continued unsuccessful negotiation, one of the officers tased Lee. Officers confirmed then that Lee had been holding a loaded handgun with a round in the chamber, the safety off, and the hammer cocked. When officers searched Lee, they also found three loaded 30-round rifle magazines.

In a subsequent search of Lee's vehicle, officers discovered that an AR-type rifle had also been within his reach during the standoff. Officers seized three additional long arms, including an HK 91 and a Tavor (Israeli assault rifle), three additional handguns, nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition, and 17 loaded magazines. All the firearms were loaded with a round in the chamber. In a post-Miranda statement, Lee admitted that he had planned to take the firearms and ammunition to Guatemala.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angela Martinez and Serra M. Tsethlikai, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about the HSI Arizona mission @HSIPhoenix.