LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating allegations that SWAT officers bought specially-made handguns and resold them at a significant profit.
Investigators want to know how many officers were involved, the number of guns sold and when the sales were carried out. The allegations, if proven, could be a violation of federal firearm statutes and city ethics rules.
This marks the department's second probe since 2010 into the whereabouts of the .45-caliber guns, which featured an 'LAPD SWAT' insignia, the Los Angeles Times reported. An initial investigation was deemed "deficient" in a report by Inspector General Alex Bustamante.
The Times said suspicion about the guns first arose in 2010, when a firearms inventory was ordered at the LAPD's Metropolitan Division, which includes SWAT.
The officer who carried out the count found that SWAT members had purchased up to 324 pistols from the gun manufacturer Kimber and were "possibly reselling them to third parties for large profits," Bustamante wrote in his report.
Kimber sold the guns to SWAT members for about $600 each — a steep discount from their resale value of between $1,600 and $3,500, the report said.
During the inventory, the officer also discovered that two companies not affiliated with the LAPD — Cinema Weaponry and Lucas Ranch Gun Sales — were involved in the transactions with Kimber. Unbeknownst to the gun manufacturer, Cinema Weaponry was involved in the purchase of the handguns, while Lucas Ranch Gun Sales was charging fees "for facilitating the transfer of the pistols from Kimber to officers," the Times said.
Jim Manhire, who owns Lucas Ranch, told the newspaper that the SWAT officers relied on him, as a registered gun dealer, to complete the state and federal registration process that must be done for all weapons. The firearms, he said, were purchased by the officers directly from Kimber and shipped from the manufacturer to Manhire. After he had registered the weapons, the officers picked them up, Manhire said.
Manhire could not recall how many officers had him register guns and was unaware whether the officers then resold the weapons. He denied that he was paid to register the guns, saying that he only received reimbursement from the officers for registration fees charged by authorities.
Cinema Weaponry is owned by Michael Papac, according to the state's business registry. Papac's name does not appear on LAPD employee rosters. He did not return calls from the Times seeking comment.
The LAPD's investigation is expected to be completed in about a month, Bustamante wrote in his report, which will be presented to the LA Police Commission on Tuesday.
Information from: Los Angeles Times
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.