A U.S. Customs and Border Protection watch commander at the Long Beach port pleaded guilty Wednesday to running an illegal gun sales operation, hiding information to obtain a security clearance and cheating on his federal income taxes, federal prosecutors said.
Wei Xu, 56, of Santa Fe Springs, also admitted to unlawfully possessing more than 40 machine guns and other illegal firearms as part of a plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release.
Xu was convicted of selling at least 99 firearms without their required license, starting the late ’90s, until he was arrested Feb. 5.
Investigators say he used his status in law enforcement to increase profits by buying and selling “off-roster” handguns, or those that aren’t available to the general public.
Xu marketed the guns online, officials said.
He was eventually caught after a series of transactions last summer in which he sold four guns, three of them out of the trunk of his car, to an undercover agent, according to prosecutors.
After his arrest, a search of Xu’s Santa Fe Springs residence uncovered more than 250 firearms, among them 41 that were fully-automatic or machineguns and two short-barreled rifles. None of them lawfully registered, authorities said.
The defendant also admitted he purposefully failed to disclose his foreign financial interests and contacts in China so that he could get a secret-level security clearance.
To evade taxes, he incorporated a sham company in Florida through which claimed fake business losses to offset his income, officials said.
U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna vowed to “zealously prosecute” public officials who “mock the laws they have sworn to uphold.”
“Mr. Xu’s public life as a federal officer masked his private greed and disrespect for the law, which he demonstrated through illegal weapons sales, tax evasion and lying about contacts with foreign nationals,” Hanna said in a statement.
Xu has been in federal custody since his arrest. He’s scheduled to be sentenced next year on Jan. 14, when he will face up to 25 years in federal prison.