Two Brits mistaken for terrorists, held for weeks

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by exwhyzee, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. exwhyzee

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    Be careful [what you bring] when you visit the States... :eek:

    RALEIGH (AP) — Two Britons are back home after spending nearly a month in North Carolina jails over two silencers they said they brought into the country as a gift for a hunting buddy.

    The pair traveled from England to North Carolina in November for a week of hunting with a friend in Person County, north of Durham. They were arrested when they went to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport to pick up a lost bag, which held the silencers, The News & Observer reported Wednesday.

    A defense lawyer said the silencers were for use on air guns, as is common in England.

    Federal officials deported Garry Latcham, 43, and George Hope, 41, last week after they pleaded guilty to a felony charge of failing to declare the $55 silencers on U.S. customs forms.

    "We came for a holiday of a lifetime, and we got one," Latcham told The News & Observer of Raleigh in a telephone interview. "I will never come back to the United States, ever."

    The Britons were visiting Latcham's friend Peter Slivinski, the newspaper reported.

    Customs agents found two silencers that the men initially said were to be used on firearms, according to court documents. Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Kocher said the idea that the SAK silencers were for air rifles was expressed later.

    Before being sent home, the two men spent 24 days being shuttled by federal officials among jails in Alamance, Edgecombe and Wake counties and slept on floor mats, the newspaper said.

    "It isn't human," Latcham said of American jails. "My dog eats better than the food in there."

    The men's attorney, Doug Kingsbery of Raleigh, said silencers are used in England for air guns.

    "At the point they realized this was just an innocent mistake, they should have just let them go," Kingsbery said. "These guys went through a terrifying experience, being in a foreign country's jail."

    Kingsbery said the silencers are required in England near towns and villages and are available without a permit.

    But Kocher said customs agents "reacted as they have been trained" when they found the silencers, which are regulated as tightly as machine guns and can't be brought into the United States.

    Silencers are attached to a gun barrel to reduce the noise and flash of a gunshot.

    Prosecutors dropped charges of importing firearms when the men agreed to plead guilty to failing to report the silencers.

    "We found no connection to any organized criminal activity," Kocher said. "Had they declared them, it may have very well been that they were seized and everyone went on their way."

    Read the story here.
     
  2. Principessa

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    I'm sorry this happend to them; but come on. They should have known better than to pack anything related to a firearm in this day and age. :cool:
     
  3. exwhyzee

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    True, but how ironic that everyone claims the USA has liberal gun regs, and a few Brits come in with what they consider standard equipment for hunting and this happens...

    I think the prosecutors were trying to make an example out of these guys. Maybe they were trying to clear the way for the Redcoats to return.
     
  4. jumbo747jet

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    Naturally they should have declared what they were bringing in to the country, but I can understand why they didn't, considering american's reputation for very "relaxed" laws for guns. If you can get a gun by opening a bank account, it's not strange to think that bringing in a silencer (which isn't a gun in itself) would be totally legal
     
  5. Gl3nn

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    I agree with 747
     
  6. Deno

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    Its stupid they brought them here and its stupid they were held for 24 days.
     
  7. vince

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    My first reaction was to think they were stupid. But naive or inexperienced may be fairer. I don't think they deserved 24 days in jail though.
     
  8. nudeyorker

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    What I find the most idiotic is that they were not firearms but accessories. I don't understand why a simple explanation by the two could not have simply resulted in the items being seized by customs if they are regulated and/or a fine for failing to declare them.
     
  9. D_Marazion Analdouche

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    Please tell me you don't get your information watching Michael Moore documentaries. He edited the clip to make it look he went into the bank and walked out with a gun, it didn't happen that way.
     
  10. Principessa

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    I wondered about that as well.


    I've read of cases where men get less time for pistol whipping their pregnant wives. :mad: It appears some podunk sheriff was feeling his oats and wanted to make an example of these guys. :frown1:
     
  11. vince

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    It wouldn't be the sheriff. It's Custom and Immigration officers. There are some real assholes sitting in the "meet and greet" booths in US airports. I think they get their rocks off harassing travellers.
     
  12. nudeyorker

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    I've been lucky, I guess I don't look like the type to smuggle and not declare value!
     
  13. Jason

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    Something doesn't add up about this story.

    Gun laws in the UK are very, very strict. There is no right to bear arms. You need "good reason" to be granted a firearm license, you will be interviewed by the police, you will also need two referees who will also be interviewed by the police, you will need support from your doctor. You will have to demonstrate safe storage. Almost no-one in Britain has a gun. Self-defence is not a valid reason for owning a gun. In fact there are very few valid reasons.

    Possession of an unlicensed firearm has a prison sentence of minimum five years, no exceptions (and judges do impose more). There are severe restrictions on airguns and imitation guns.

    Anyone in Britain who has contact with guns must know that the whole process is tied up in regulations, and it is the duty of the gun owner to know about these regulations. The idea of taking a silencer through a UK airport is pretty shocking as there must be some required paperwork. As for taking it into a foreign country, no way! It would be instinctive for a British gun owner to check and double check regulations first.
     
  14. marleyisalegend

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    North Carolina embarrassing the country? What else is (not) new?
     
  15. vince

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    I've actually only had a couple of run ins. The worst was crossing by car from Canada with a black friend. We got turned back. When entering the US at an airport I look for the line with the fewest 'persons of colour', because that will be the fastest.
     
  16. exwhyzee

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    Im not sure we are embarrassing anyone. The federal custons agents and/or the Assistant U.S. Attorney seem to be doing enough work of their own accord.

    Vince is right, the C and I agents are difficult hurdles. I have many many stories. I hope I don't get hassled on my way home next month. :mad:
     
  17. D_Relentless Original

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    Exactly ^
     
  18. dreamer20

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    I agree nudeyorker. IMO it would have been sufficient to confiscate the items, which were neither firearms nor ammunition. Instead the two were subjected over zealous and wrongful prosecution by the application of the unsubstantiated firearms importation charge.


    TSA: Traveling with Special Items

    The key regulatory requirements to transporting firearms, firearm parts or ammunition in checked baggage are:

    • You must declare all firearms to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process.
     
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