LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) — In a secretive corner of the Internet, buyers and sellers can meet up in a marketplace where virtually anything is available.
It's there, federal investigators said, that 33-year-old Adam Joseph Bunger used various aliases to sell weapons to buyers in Australia, England and other countries with strict firearm purchasing and ownership laws.
Bunger is charged in federal court in Kentucky with shipping a firearm in foreign commerce, delivering a firearm to an unlicensed person without notice to the carrier and obliterating the serial number from a firearm. Bunger has no attorney listed in court records and efforts to locate him on Thursday were unsuccessful.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents said Bunger used a site called Black Market Reloaded to offer and sell weapons to buyers across the world. Eventually, Special Agent David S. Hayes wrote in a criminal complaint that Bunger sold weapons to people in Australia, England and tried to sell one to a buyer in Sweden between June and August.
Black Market Reloaded is a site run by a company in Dresden, Germany, where buyers and sellers can connect to exchange online money for drugs — real and fake, whisky, guns and replica suits, birth certificates and driver's licenses. The site is secretive and allows buyers and sellers to use online pseudonyms to conduct transactions with Bitcoins — an online currency can be transferred through a computer or smartphone without an intermediate financial institution.
The site relies on a tool called Tor to make users anonymous. A message left for the Dresden, Germany-based site was not immediately returned Thursday. About the only thing not available on the site is child pornography. One seller who posts as "Mike Delacruz" said selling that will get a vendor banned immediately.
In an obscenity-laced message in response to questions from The Associated Press, Delacruz said vendors don't want attention from reporters. "Because of you the site might get more attention from law enforcement," Delacruz said. "Just find another thing to write about and get the ... out of here unless you want to buy something."
Hayes started a criminal investigation into Bunger in early July, after Australian police reported that they had intercepted a package containing the components of a Modelo Super 9mm pistol. The disassembled gun was hidden inside an Xbox system, Hayes said. Australian police arrested the intended recipient of the handgun and the man told investigators he bought the weapon off Black Market Reloaded.
The ATF traced back the Australia shipment to Bowling Green and to a sender called "John Smith." Postal records showed that "Smith" mailed two other international packages on the day he sent the Australia parcel.
Later that month, agents found two international packages at a Bowling Green post office listing "John Smith" as the shipper. A clerk described the man dropping off the packages for investigators. A search of one of the packages revealed that a disassembled "Uzi style pistol" with its serial number obliterated and a "suspected flash suppressor" were contained inside a hollow Xbox console. The package was addressed to a customer in the United Kingdom. The second package, addressed to someone in Australia, contained firearms parts including a magazine, butt stock and fore stock for an assault rifle concealed inside a DVD player, Hayes wrote.
In early August, investigators seized a parcel destined for Sweden. The package contained a metal computer switching power supply box that contained a disassembled .22 caliber Taurus pistol and magazine.
Hayes said agents used credit card records to identify Bunger as a suspect in the firearm mailings. Several clerks picked Bunger out of a photo lineup and identified him as "John Smith" who mailed the packages.
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