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Former DEA agent pleads guilty to selling firearms without license

A former special agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency pleaded guilty in Tucson's federal court on Tuesday to illegally selling firearms without a license, authorities said. 

Joseph Michael Gill, 42, from Tucson, pleaded guilty to one count of dealing in firearms without a license and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, said Trisha Young, a spokewoman with the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Nevada. 

Gill worked as a DEA special agent assigned to the Nogales Office, and resigned his position with the federal agency on June 30, 2018. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lynnette C. Kimmins accepted Gill's plea Tuesday morning, and scheduled his sentencing for Nov. 26, 2018. 

Gill faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, Young said. 

As part of the plea agreement, Gill admitted that in June 2016, he purchased three Colt .223-caliber rifles from an online firearms dealer based in Lexington, Kentucky for $1,896. Gill had the weapons shipped to a firearms dealer in Sahuarita, where he picked up the three rifles, later selling two of them to two different people who he "had reason to believe intended to use or dispose of the firearms unlawfully," court documents said.

In an affidavit for a warrant to search Gill's house, investigators found that in December 2012 he applied for a Federal Firearms License with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, but later withdrew his application. However, during that time, Gill purchased "multiple firearms" from licensed firearms dealers and sold them on the Internet on the website Gunbroker.com. 

The ATF learned the Gill engaged in approximately 645 transactions involving firearms through the website, said Young. 

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The case was investigated by the ATF and the Inspector General of the Department of Justice. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip N. Smith Jr. of the District of Nevada is prosecuting Gill because the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona was recused from the case.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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