A Romanian citizen who lives in Phoenix smuggled firearms and night-vision scopes over a period of several years from Arizona to his home country, federal authorities say.
Florin Ianc, 42, drew attention to himself with a claim that his truck had been stolen after he'd filled it with numerous guns he'd just bought at Cabela's in Glendale.
That suspicion led to the criminal complaint filed by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations this week that accuses Ianc of trying to smuggle two high-tech rifle scopes into Mexico on Tuesday through the international border at Lukeville.
Ianc is painted in the nine-page complaint as an unlicensed exporter of firearms who advertised his wares on Romanian Internet sites. No ties to terror groups or organized criminal groups are mentioned, though he had help at times from people here and abroad.
According to HSI Agent Scott Stachowski, who wrote the complaint, Ianc filed a suspicious vehicle-theft claim in late 2013 with Travelers Indemnity Company, saying "while he was purchasing hunting items at a hunting/fishing outlet named Cabela's, his personal vehicle was stolen from an adjacent parking lot. Ianc reported that this vehicle contained a large amount of weapons and hunting supplies which were also stolen."
The Romanian seems to have thought the insurance representatives were his BFFs, blabbing to them he was selling shotguns from the United States to the Eastern European country, and offering no proof of ownership for the supposedly stolen firearms.
Travelers reported the info to the Arizona Department of Insurance, which passed it on to the feds.
An investigation last year found Ianc's firearms ads and proof that he'd mailed a package in 2013 labeled "Metal Parts" from Phoenix to someone named Adi Codrean in Romania, which Stachowski found very suspicious. The agent detailed several other clues that Ianc has been operating as an illicit weapons smuggler. One of those clues included a 2011 Romanian news article about Ianc being arrested for trying to smuggle 90 firearms and ammunition from Germany into Romania. The article says that Ianc hails from New Mosnita, Romania, and that he's the "owner of a company specializing in the import and trade of weapons." Other articles about the 2011 bust reviewed by New Times contained the pictures we've re-published here of the pistols and rifles seized by European customs officers.
Ianc has lived in Phoenix about 15 years and owns an LLC called Euromex, described on LinkedIn as an apartment company.
The feds tapped Ianc's email last year, intercepting a warning from his friend in March that Romanian authorities were hot on his tail. "The customer suggested Ianc remove his internet advertisements and 'lay low' for a while," the report says. Ianc followed the advice.
But in December, HSI agents monitored a plan hatching between Ianc and a man named Francisco Bedoya to smuggle an ATN ThoR 320 thermal optic scope into Mexico. The high-tech item was purchased online from "The Night Vision Guys" for about $3,500.
The two men met on Tuesday in the parking lot of the Family Dollar Store in Ajo, Ianc in his white Prius. Two other people were in his car, though the report doesn't identify them. Agents tailed him to the Lukeville port-of-entry and busted him trying to cross the border into Mexico.
After questioning, Ianc told the agents he had two of the night-vision scopes in his car and that "he was not taking them on a hunting trip." He admitted he'd been paid to transport the scopes, and that "Pancho Bedoya" had helped pay for them. A search of his Phoenix home turned up documents proving Ianc knew the items weren't exportable. Ianc confessed that he'd shipped ammunition and police-quality night-scopes to Romania in the past, the complaint says.
Ianc reportedly told agents "he assumed that in the United States, if you get caught doing something illegal, you get a warning the first time and that you will only be punished if you do it a second time."
He's being detained as of today by the U.S. Marshals Service, says Cosme Lopez, spokesman for the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office. The office could make no additional comment on the case at this time, Lopez adds.
Records show Ianc's detention hearing and initial appearance is scheduled for February 4 before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Boyle. Officials with the Federal Public Defender's office, which is representing Ianc, could not be reached on Friday.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Check back for updates on this story -- we'll find out how Ianc's ideas about the American justice system and punishment hold up.
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.