Monday, October 23, 2023

Larry Vickers Pleads Guilty in Federal Firearms and Sanction Violation Case: A Deep Dive into the Unraveling of a Tactical Legend


Larry Allen Vickers, a renowned combat veteran, advisor in the firearms sector, instructor in tactical operations, and a well-known figure on YouTube with a following surpassing a million, entered a guilty plea last week to a detailed federal indictment. The charges included accusations of being involved in illegal importation and procurement of machine guns and other regulated firearms, as well as violating U.S. sanctions against a Russian firearms producer.

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At 60 years of age, Vickers now potentially faces a prison sentence of up to 25 years, as disclosed in a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office located in Maryland. The court has yet to announce a date for his sentencing.

Vickers held significant influence in the firearms industry, notably in tactical equipment, due to his ideal blend of training, practical experience, and business insight. He played a role in Operation Acid Gambit, a mission aimed at rescuing Kurt Muse, a CIA agent, from imprisonment in Panama. Nowadays, such rescue operations are seldom even among elite military units.

He was frequently consulted by small arms producers for his expertise, contributing to the development and innovation of products for companies like Wilson Combat, Aimpoint, Glock, and notably, Heckler & Koch. His collaboration with Heckler & Koch resulted in the transformation of the M16, giving birth to the HK416 – a preferred weapon among special operations forces globally.

Furthermore, Vickers was known as a scholar and historian in firearms. His Vickers Guide series provided profound insights into various firearms, including the 1911, World War II German small arms, the AR-15, and two volumes dedicated to the AK-47. His advocacy for the AK-47 led to design improvements, enhancing the rifle's ergonomics.

Vickers also established himself as one of the nation’s top firearms instructors, with his teachings reaching wide audiences through television shows and YouTube. His courses were highly sought after, attracting civilians and law enforcement, despite some critiques on the dated nature of his training methods. As a Delta Force retiree, he was among the first to extend training to civilians.

His high profile and service did not escape the attention of federal law enforcement, including the ATF.

Federal agents conducted a raid on Vickers' home in October 2021, while he was undergoing cancer treatment. They confiscated 245 NFA weapons from his collection, with some considered to be irreplaceable museum pieces. The lapse in his Special Operation Tax (SOT) payment was initially believed to be the cause of the raid, but the recent federal indictment challenges this assumption.

The indictment unveils a conspiracy dating from June 2018 to March 2021, involving Vickers and others in the acquisition of machine guns and restricted firearms under false pretenses, misrepresenting the intended use of these firearms for law enforcement demonstrations.

Among the accused are Sean Reidpath Sullivan, owner of Trident LLC and associated with B&T USA; James Christopher Tafoya, owner of JCT Firearms and JCT Manufacturing in New Mexico; Matthew Jeremy Hall, former police chief of Coats, North Carolina; and James Sawyer, former police chief of Ray, North Dakota.

The court documents expose a scheme where law letters were manipulated and submitted to the ATF to facilitate the transfer of various restricted firearms, including B&T submachine guns, Swiss STG 90s, CH-Haenel short-barreled rifles, and various other firearms.

The indictment also addresses Vickers’ involvement in violating sanctions against the Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov Concern. Despite the sanctions imposed in July 2014, Vickers and his associates purportedly engaged in transactions with the company, aiming to establish “American Kalashnikov,” with Vickers poised to be a key figure in the venture.

Vickers received over $46,000 in consulting fees from Kalashnikov Concern between November 2015 and July 2016.

The investigation of Vickers’ case was a collaborative effort involving the ATF, FBI, IRS Criminal Investigations, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.

Erek L. Barron, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, acknowledged the commitment of two trial attorneys from the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Criminal Division in the press release, emphasizing their vital role in concluding the guilty plea of Larry Allen Vickers.

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