China’s Ministry of Public Security claimed on Tuesday that it had detained 23 people in connection with an international gun trafficking bust involving a U.S. soldier, Staff Sgt. Joseph Debose of a North Carolina-based Special Forces National Guard unit. The New York Times’ David Barboza reports that the case is being jointly investigated with the American authorities:
According to the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, customs officers in Shanghai stumbled upon the smuggling ring in August after discovering a Beretta 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun and other firearms hidden inside a stereo speaker in a U.P.S. package.
After contacting U.P.S. in the United States, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, the authorities traced the package to two Chinese nationals in New York, using shipping documents and surveillance video from a U.P.S. facility in Queens. The two men eventually led the authorities to Sergeant Debose, who was acting as a gun dealer in North Carolina, prosecutors said.
The Chinese men, Lin Zhifu, 25, and Li Lilan, 23, were indicted last month in New York on charges of illegally exporting firearms. Mr. Lin pleaded guilty, and Mr. Li pleaded not guilty. The charges carry a prison term of up to 20 years.
The authorities said they believed that the group began smuggling firearms in late 2010. Among the weapons brought into China were semiautomatic pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and military-style assault weapons. Private gun ownership in China is highly restricted, with nearly all firearms in the hands of the state authorities.
China didn’t stop there – Police in 150 cities destroyed more than 100,000 illegal guns on Tuesday as well, in what The Global Times called “a coordinated action” meant to emphasize China’s ban on personal gun ownership:
Half of the guns were confiscated during a 10-month national campaign targeting illegal guns and explosives, which ended in December, the ministry said.
Police say during the campaign they busted more than 180 criminal organizations and detained 7,800 people for illegal possession of guns and explosives.
Statistics show there were only 560 crimes involving the use of firearms last year.
The ministry said that since January, the number of criminal cases involving guns dropped 9.7 percent from the same period of last year, and criminal cases involving explosives fell by 21.6 percent.
China Hearsay’s Stan Abrams, meanwhile, laments America’s track record of gun control within its own borders:
Five hundred and sixty crimes involving firearms. Hmm. Let’s see what happened in the U.S. In the state of Texas alone, there were 810 crimes using firearms in 2010.
I’ll stop there. I’m feeling slightly nauseated.