A sergeant in a U.S. Special Forces National Guard unit faces a 20-year prison sentence for his alleged involvement in a multi-national gun-trafficking ring where he provided semi-automatic weapons to Chinese nationals who would then ship the guns to China.
Staff Sergeant Joseph Debose, a 29-year-old staff sergeant in a North Carolina-based National Guard unit, was arrested Sunday in a sting operation by federal agents in Smithfield, North Carolina. When Debose met with the undercover agents, he was carrying a loaded .45-caliber pistol.
According to the feds, between December 2010 and April of this year, Debose provided multiple shipments of weapons to 25-year-old Zhifu Lin and 23-year-old Lilan Li — both Chinese nationals — who would ship the weapons to buyers in China.
Law enforcement caught wind of the trafficking ring when Chinese authorities found a shipment of weapons with defaced serial numbers. The shipment came from Queens.
Federal investigators were able to determine that some of the weapons were originally purchased in North Carolina, and linked them to Lin, Li and Debose.
Lin and Li were charged with illegally exporting firearms. Additionally, Lin was hit with charges of operating an illegal gun-dealing business and transporting firearms with obliterated serial numbers.
When Debose was taken into custody, authorities found an additional 12 weapons that the feds say also were intended for export.
See a copy of the indictment below.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 24, 2012