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By Logan Smith
January 20, 2023 / 12:52 PM / CBS Colorado
A Haitian national residing in Denver was sentenced last week on federal smuggling charges.
Peniel Olibris, 32, was ordered to serve one year and one day in federal prison on Jan. 12.
A grand jury indicted Olibris in July of last year. He signed a plea agreement in September, admitting guilt to one of the two smuggling counts in the indictment.
Federal investigators determined the Olibris purchased 77 firearms from metro area gun retailers within 16 months, boxed them up and loaded the boxes into cars, had the cars driven to Florida and then shipped to family members in Haiti. There, some of the guns were sold.
According to the plea agreement in the case, a store manager at Westminster Firearms in Arvada reported a suspicious customer in October 2019. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began investigating Olibris at that time. They ultimately determined Olibris and a woman, Faniola Charles, purchased 77 guns from stores in Lakewood and Aurora between February 2019 and June 2020.
Three of the guns he purchased, all 9mm semi-automatic pistols, were later registered by buyers in Haiti. The buyer of two of those pistols told federal investigators he had purchased the weapons from Olibris’s brother.
Olibris shipped 13 cars to Haiti, according to documentation from the shipping company.
Olibris admitted to investigators that he shipped “a few” weapons to relatives in Haiti, according to the indictment. He also told investigators during an interview he was trying to obtain the federal firearms license but had yet to do so.
“The terms and conditions for each shipment required Mr. Olibris to affirm that the vehicles did not contain firearms, which are ‘prohibited by law,'” as stated in the indictment. “The U.S. State Department, Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance, conducted a check of registration and license history for Mr. Olibris, and confirmed that, as of December 29, 2020, Mr. Olibris had not applied for, or obtained, the necessary license to export defense articles. Mr. Olibris knowlingly exported those firearms, knowing that the exportation was contrary to United States law and regulation.”
“Illegal firearms trafficking – whether within the United States or across international borders – poses a serious threat to the safety of our communities,” said United States Attorney Cole Finegan following Olibris’s sentencing.
Olibris faced up to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of no more than 16 months as part of the plea agreement.
U.S. Homeland Security Investigations assisted the ATF in the investigation.
First published on January 20, 2023 / 12:52 PM
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