Man who sold smuggled Iraqi guns to undercover agent gets probation

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DURANGO, Colo. — A man who pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired with a U.S. Navy SEAL to sell machine guns and explosives that were smuggled into the country from the Middle East received no jail time in a sentence handed down Wednesday.

The Durango Herald is reporting that Durango resident Richard Paul, 35, received eight months of home confinement for aiding Nicholas Bickle, a Navy SEAL in San Diego, in a scheme to deal stolen weapons.

As part of his plea deal, Paul agreed to testify against Bickle, who was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in federal prison for a conviction on felony weapons charges.

Among the items that federal and local authorities seized from Paul’s garage in 2010 were machine guns, grenades and five pounds of military C-4 explosive. According to court documents, some of the machine guns were AK-47s that contained the Iraqi inscription “Jaeesh,” meaning “army” or “military.”

According to court documents, Paul sold 12 AK-47s and five pistols to an undercover agent, who had expressed a desire to then smuggles the weapons into Mexico. The AK-47s sold for $1,300 each and the pistols were sold for $300 each.

Paul, along with Bickle’s three other co-conspirators, said Navy SEALs are not searched when returning from deployments. That, they said, is how Bickle managed to smuggle the weapons into the country.

Bickle, who Paul claims to have known for 18 years, served eight years in the Navy, including two deployments to Iraq. His attorneys argued the tours affected his physical and mental health, which led him to commit the crime.