Two former Broward County residents were arrested on June 26, 2019, based on a complaint charging them with conspiracy to violate and attempted violations of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) (18 U.S.C. 371 and 22 U.S.C. 2778).
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
John James Peterson, 60, and Brunella Zuppone, 67, were charged with conspiracy to violate the AECA and ITAR, and attempts to illegally export to Argentina defense articles, specifically, parts and components for AR-15 assault rifles, which were smuggled across international borders by a transnational weapons trafficking group in Argentina. They each had their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisette M. Reid.
According to the complaint and other court documents, Peterson and Zuppone illegally exported without a required license from the U.S. Department of State, to the Argentine weapons trafficking organization, thousands of AR-15 assault rifle parts. The investigative efforts of HSI agents in the Miami Field Office along with HSI agents stationed in Argentina, and their proactive cooperation with Argentine law enforcement officials between October and December 2019, led to the execution of search warrants in Florida and Argentina that resulted in the seizure of the equivalent of fifty-two (52) AR-15 assault rifles in Florida and in Argentina: 189 long arms, 156 handguns, one mortar round, one hand grenade, over 30,000 rounds of assorted caliber ammunition, five vehicles, and $110,000 in cash. On June 26, 2019, Argentina’s National Gendarmeria conducted an operation that led to the arrest of 25 subjects and the seizure of thousands of firearms and explosive materials.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ricardo Del Toro and Trial Attorney Evan Turgeon of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.