A report on the Navy Times shared that a special grand jury has indicted a Navy SEAL and two others in the weapons smuggling case that we reported in a previous post.
The six-count, 16-page indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tuesday. The accused were charged with the following: conspiracy, distribution and transportation of explosives, and illegal dealing and possession of machine guns.
Named in the indictment were Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Nicholas Bickle of San Diego, Andrew Kaufman of Las Vegas, and Richard Paul of Durango, Colorado. They were accused of scheming to “buy, sell, and transport illegal weapons,” from March 30, 2009 until November 4.
The Navy Times reported that Bickle appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Las Vegas on Tuesday, and has entered a plea of “not guilty”. Natalie Collins, spokeswoman with the Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas, shared that Bickle was released pending the trial, but is required to wear an electronic monitoring device.
According to federal prosecutors, the 33-year-old SEAL is the ringleader of the operation, and that he had smuggled the weapons into the country. The prosecutors allege that Bickle had placed the weapons in hidden compartments in military footlockers during his deployments in Iraq.
It was his access to weapons, according to the indictment, that aided the operation. Bickle had served at the armory and handled weapons for his platoon during his deployment to Iraq. This role, the indictment indicated, “gave [Bickle] access to a variety of weapons and explosives, and as a result he was able to arrange the smuggling of large numbers of firearms, including machine guns, as well as other items, like explosives, into the United States.”