LOS ANGELES – A U.S. Customs and Border Protection supervisory officer has been arrested on federal charges alleging that he engaged in the business of unlawfully selling firearms without a license and sold an illegal short-barreled rifle to an undercover investigator.
Wei Xu, 56, of Santa Fe Springs, an officer at the Los Angeles and Long Beach Seaport, was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon and is making his initial appearance this afternoon in federal court in downtown Los Angeles.
A criminal complaint unsealed this afternoon alleges that Xu sold or otherwise transferred at least 70 firearms through a federal firearms license (FFL) dealer since 2014. As detailed in the complaint affidavit, Xu allegedly exploited his status as a law enforcement officer to purchase and then transfer at least 14 “off-roster” handguns that cannot be sold to the general public by an FFL. Xu also sold or transferred firearms within days or weeks from the date he purchased them. Xu allegedly operated his business by posting advertisements on internet marketplaces.
According to the complaint affidavit, as part of the investigation, an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a buyer purchased a total of four firearms from Xu, three of which Xu unlawfully sold out of the trunk of car. The firearms included an “off-roster” pistol, high-capacity magazines, and a short-barreled rifle.
Xu was arrested on Tuesday by special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and IRS Criminal Investigation.
Pursuant to a federal search warrant executed at Xu’s residence on Tuesday and unsealed today, federal authorities seized more than 300 firearms, including numerous assault rifles, two additional short-barreled rifles, and what appear to be machine guns.
A complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
If convicted of the charge of dealing firearms without a license, Xu would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. The charge of possessing an unlicensed firearm carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Annamartine Salick of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section and Valerie Makarewicz of the Major Frauds Section.