2 sentenced to 8.5 years for shipping guns, ammo to China

Two men from Arizona were sentenced in federal court last week to serve more than eight years in prison for charges that resulted from shipping guns and ammunition from the United States to China.

Peter Steve Plesinger, 55, of Sahuarita, and Stephen Edward Smith, 63, of Tucson, previously pleaded guilty to exportation of munitions from the United States to Hong Kong, dealing firearms without a license, and money laundering. Plesinger and Smith were each given an 87-month and 102-month sentence, to be served concurrently, followed by three years of supervised released.

According to court documents, authorities in Hong Kong intercepted an incoming package in June 2014. The package, which had been shipped from Plesinger out of Arizona and to the Hong Kong address, contained 139 rounds of ammunition.

Authorities searched the residence at which the package was addressed and discovered three rifles and two pistols, in addition to four rifle barrels, a silencer, and more than 9,000 rounds of ammunition, all of which was later determined to have previously been shipped by Plesinger. The investigation revealed that Plesinger was paid more than $64,000 and Smith more than $59,000 to ship “large quantities” of weapons and related items to Hong Kong.

“The sentences imposed in this case should send a strong message to those who would consider illegally exporting firearms, ammunition, or silencers to other countries,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange. “We will continue to work diligently with our national and international partners to vigorously investigate and prosecute such conduct.”

Two other defendants in the case – Irina Cvetkovic and Earl Richmond, both of Sahuarita – were previously convicted and sentenced for the smaller parts they played in the conspiracy. Cvetkovic pleaded guilty in July 2016 of Export of Arms and Munitions and was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised release. Sahuarita pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Export Munitions in May 2016 and was given three years probation.