ATF raid nets more than 300 guns, 4 arrests

By Thomas Wilson

   Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) have confiscated more than 300 firearms and charged four persons including a Mountain City firearms dealer and a Bristol, Tenn. chiropractor with federal firearms and conspiracy violations in Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina.
   Beginning on Wednesday morning ATF agents led a two-day operation that resulted in the arrest of Bill Wallace, 47, a federally licensed firearms dealer doing business as Army Surplus and Variety in Mountain City.
   As a result of a search warrant at Wallace's business on Wednesday, more than 170 firearms were seized, according to ATF. The Star reported Thursday that ATF agents had served a search warrant at Army Surplus and Variety on Wednesday. Agents at the store declined to elaborate on details of the warrant at the time.
   Also arrested was Dr. Christopher Perry, 38, of Bristol Chiropractic Clinic in Bristol, Tenn. A search warrant executed on Thursday at Perry's residence in Kingsport yielded more than 100 firearms that were subsequently seized, according to ATF. ATF agents reportedly seized and/or purchased more than 300 firearms, including two machine guns, and $60,000 in cash as the result of a yearlong investigation into illegal weapons trafficking.
   ATF agents say the findings also included a grenade, anti-aircraft guns, Nazi paraphernalia, marijuana and anti-government literature. Perry allegedly purchased the guns off the books from Wallace's store, then sold them at Snapp's Trading Post across the Virginia line in Chilhowie, according to affidavits filed in the case.
   Additional subjects charged in the investigation include Douglas Icenhour, 34, of Mountain City, and James Yates, 35, of Damascus, Va. Arrest warrants have also been issued for four additional subjects the ATF has named as fugitives from justice. The subjects are Coy Edwards, 61, Sparta, N.C.; Bobby Hoover, 63, Dema, Ky.; Robert Saint Lawrence, 65, Graham, N.C.; and William Vance, 59, Beckley, West Va.
   Authorities allege those charged in the investigation were purchasing firearms and transporting firearms across state lines for sale to others at various locations including flea markets. The penalty for conspiracy offenses is a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. The penalty for the remaining substantive offenses is a maximum term of imprisonment for 10 years. All offenses each carry maximum fines of $250,000.
   ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Roehm, Washington Field Division and the U.S. Attorney offices of the Western Judicial District of Virginia and Eastern Judicial District of Tennessee, announced arrests and seizure of weapons on Friday.
   Assisting in this investigation are the U.S. Marshal's Service, FBI, Virginia State Police, Bristol Tennessee Police Department, the Washington County, Lee County, and Dickenson County, Virginia sheriff's departments.
   Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Bockhorst of the Western District of Virginia and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Reeves of the Eastern District of Tennessee are prosecuting the case for the United States Attorney's Offices.
   Authorities advise the public if they encounter these fugitives from justice to not attempt to apprehend them. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of these fugitives should contact their state or local police, or the ATF Bristol, Virginia Field Office at (276)) 466-2727.