Grand Rapids man arrested, suspected of smuggling guns to Lebanon

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids man has been charged in federal court for smuggling handguns overseas to Lebanon, some of which were hidden in parts of disassembled Porsches.

Gilbert Oscar Elian, who also has a residence in Lebanon, purchased 93 handguns between January of 2012 and May of 2014 at local retailers, including Cabela’s and Silver Bullet, according to court documents.

Elian told a Grand Rapids Police detective and an officer from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in an interview that he had taken about 65 of the guns to his residence in Lebanon.  Each of the guns was properly checked in with TSA on flights that Elian made to Lebanon.

Elian did not have an export license for the firearms, but he told agents that he was unaware that he needed one.  Elian told agents earlier that he was an owner of Prestige Imports in Grand Rapids and that he imports and exports auto parts, specifically Porsche parts.  The owner of Prestige Imports tells FOX 17 that Elian had no association with Prestige.

In June of 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Chesapeake, Virginia inspected a shipping container heading to Lebanon, which was listed as being shipped by Elian.  Because of the earlier investigation into Elian’s activities with guns and Lebanon, agents searched the container.  The officers reported that in the oil pans of the Porsche engines that were inside the shipping container, they found disassembled handguns packed in felt and plastic.

Investigators say they found 20 disassembled handguns and 23 gun magazines in the Porsche engines.  One of the guns allegedly was registered to Elian and another was unregistered, but had been purchased by Elian in September 2014.

Other investigations showed that Elian had exported or attempted to export 18 shipments from the U.S. to Lebanon since August of 2004.  He had also traveled to Lebanon several times in the last 14 years.

Elian also had two separate reservations to fly to Lebanon on Tuesday, July 28, one from Chicago and one from Detroit.  Elian was arrested before he was able to leave.

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