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Larry Vickers Indicted for Machine Gun Conspiracy

The well-known firearms trainer and influencer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally acquire machine guns

On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced the indictment of five defendants, including well-known firearms trainer and gun influencer Larry Vickers, alleging a conspiracy to illegally acquire machine guns and other highly regulated firearms. The other defendants include the former chiefs of police of Coats, North Carolina, and Ray, North Dakota, as well as Sean Sullivan, the owner of Trident Rifles, and James Tafoya, another gun dealer.

Federal law generally prohibits civilians from owning fully automatic machine guns built or imported after May 19, 1986. Gun dealers who are both Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) and Special Occupational Taxpayers (SOTs) can build and import machine guns — including demonstration “samples” — for military and law enforcement customers. To obtain a demonstration sample, the FFL/SOT must first submit a “law letter” showing the military or law enforcement entity’s interest in purchasing the firearm to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The indictment alleges that from 2018 through at least 2021, the defendants conspired to import machine guns and other restricted firearms, including short-barreled rifles, by falsely representing through “law letters” that the firearms would be used for demonstrations to law enforcement agencies, including the Coats and Ray Police Departments. Instead, the defendants resold the machine guns and other firearms for profit or kept them for their own personal use.

Larry Vickers, a retired Delta Force operator, firearms instructor, author, and consultant for gun manufacturers with over 1 million subscribers on YouTube, pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy as well as another conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

In July 2014, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Kalashnikov Concern, a Russian firearms manufacturer that specializes in AK-style weapons, in response to Russia’s first incursion into Ukraine. But according to court documents, between 2014 and 2021, Vickers and others allegedly conspired to “violate and evade” the sanctions by acquiring firearms, parts, and blueprints from Kalashnikov Concern, working with the company’s employees, and creating videos to market products for the company while collecting fees as a consultant. “A key goal” of the plan “was to develop a U.S. business that would manufacture Kalashnikov-style firearms to be sold in the U.S. market and fill the gap left by the sanctions against Kalashnikov Concern.” Vickers would have served as the spokesman and “Director of Firearms Testing and Evaluation” for the proposed company, known as “American Kalashnikov.”

In October 2021, federal agents raided Vickers’ home and seized 245 firearms, including dozens of machine guns.

Vickers faces a maximum of 25 years in federal prison for his alleged part in both conspiracies. In addition, his plea agreement specifies that he is giving up his right to possess firearms.

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