SEATTLE, Wash. - A 36-year-old resident of Tulalip, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 85 months in prison for four federal felonies related to illegal gun possession and trafficking, announced Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Seattle Debra Parker and U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. Hany Veletanlic, a citizen of Bosnia legally residing in the United States, was found guilty of violating the Arms Export Control Act, illegally possessing two unregistered silencers, and possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number. Veletanlic was convicted in February 2019 following a two-day jury trial. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said that Veletanlic had run an illegal “lucrative business” and taken “quite sophisticated steps” to hide his conduct. The Court emphasized that sending guns to countries with restrictions on guns was very serious conduct.
According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, in February 2017, Swedish law enforcement seized a part of a Glock firearm from a residence in Fagersta, Sweden. The serial number on the Glock firearm had been filed off, but Glock Inc. was able to trace the sale of the firearm using a specialized company code imprinted on the part. The gun had been purchased by a resident of the Seattle area. When contacted by law enforcement, the resident said he had privately sold the gun to Veletanlic. In May 2017, Veletanlic contacted agents from HSI when he learned they had been asking about the firearm. Veletanlic told agents about his activity selling firearms on eBay and in direct sales. After being advised of his Miranda rights, Veletanlic ultimately admitted shipping packages of firearms overseas – as many as 20 different shipments to two different customer groups in Sweden. He also has admitted shipping firearms parts to people in France, Russia, and Brazil.
“This defendant repeatedly lied to law enforcement, violated judges orders, and even schemed to harm a witness against him from the Federal Detention Center,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. “Even behind bars he tried to transfer guns in his control to another violent group. Such disregard for the rule of law cannot be tolerated.”
In the course of a July 2017 interview with law enforcement, Veletanlic admitted that a customer in France had shipped him two silencers in exchange for the firearms parts. Veletanlic claimed the silencers had been destroyed. However, when agents received permission to look in Veletanlic’s gun safe, they found one of the silencers. The second silencer was turned over by Veletanlic to agents in August 2017.
In May 2018, Veletanlic was arrested on federal charges. At the time of his arrest, he was carrying a stolen Ruger pistol with an obliterated serial number.
While awaiting sentencing at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) at SeaTac, Veletanlic communicated with others outside the prison about transferring firearms to someone he thought was associated with a criminal group. Veletanlic believed that criminal gang was going to harm someone who had been a witness against him. In reality, an undercover officer was posing as a possible gang member after inmates at the FDC alerted law enforcement to the scheme. Veletanlic denies trying to arrange the attack.
The case was investigated by HSI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms & Explosives (ATF) with assistance from the Swedish National Police.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Woods and Marie Dalton.
As the primary federal law enforcement agency responsible for investigating international smuggling operations and enforcing U.S. export laws, HSI is committed to combating illegal firearms, ammunition and explosives smuggling activities that fuel violence both domestically and abroad. HSI fulfills this commitment by relying on the agency’s extensive legal authorities and unique expertise in conducting illegal export and contraband smuggling investigations.