Prosecutors accused Bickle of controlling the sale of military hardware ranging from ammunition to night-vision goggles and high-tech rifle targeting scopes.
A sniper rifle, AK-47 assault rifles, M92 submachine guns, military-grade Ruger 9mm handguns and a wheeled footlocker with a false bottom were seized by undercover federal agents at Bickle’s San Diego apartment, a storage unit he leased in nearby El Cajon, Calif., and in Las Vegas.
Agents also found five pounds of military C-4 explosive at the Durango, Colo., home of Bickle’s friend Richard Paul.
“The weapons trafficked in this case were not your ordinary firearms,” U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden in Las Vegas said in a statement. “They were fully-automatic machine guns that likely would have ended up in the hands of criminals.”
“The motive was profit,” prosecutor Phillip N. Smith Jr. told the judge. He invoked the memory of a shooting last September at an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nev., where a gunman opened fire with an AK-47 — killing four people and wounding seven, including Nevada Army National Guard members before killing himself. Bickle is not linked to that case.
The judge agreed, saying “illegal weapons, indiscriminately sold, can wind up in hands that can cause a lot of havoc.”