GREENVILLE — A former U.S. Marine has been sentenced to 10 years in prison today for illegally trafficking dozens of handguns to the United Kingdom.
Steven Neal Greenoe, 37, a former Raleigh resident, pleaded guilty in federal court to the charges, which allege that the joint U.S. and U.K. citizen took nine trips from North Carolina where he grew up purchased handguns, and concealed a total of 63 pistols in his luggage before returning to England, where he lived with his British wife.
Investigators alleged that the guns were being sold to criminal gangs in England. British authorities linked a gun Greenoe purchased to a drive-by shooting in Manchester, England, last February. About a week later, a grand jury added a 50-count federal indictment to charges initially filed in the summer of 2010.
By seeking to circumvent both U.S. and U.K. laws to illegally export firearms, Mr. Greenoe has potentially put the safety of countless law-abiding British citizens at risk, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Brock Nicholson. ICE collaborated with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and British authorities in a joint investigation of the offenses, committed from February to July of 2010.
Greenoe was arrested in Raleigh after a tip from British authorities on July 25, 2010.
After his sentence, Greenoe will face a three years supervised release. An alleged co-conspirator, Steven Caldwell of England, received an indeterminate jail sentence upon his conviction in November, and was told he would not be eligible for parole for 11 years, according to the Guardian, a British newspaper.
Greenoe used his concealed weapons permit to purchase multiple guns at a time in shops all around North Carolina. He took them apart to ship in his checked luggage. Two months before he was caught in July 2010, Transportation Security Administration questioned him at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, according to court documents. He was let onto the plane after he told airport officials that he was a gun dealer and the parts in his bags were non-working, engineering samples.
Greenoe, a New Orleans native, was discharged from the military after a knee injury. He claimed to be a former bodyguard of Madonna and captain in the Marines. British media reported that documents appear to suggest his rank peaked at lance corporal where he served in an administrative role. He also claimed to have worked for NATO and the French Foreign Legion.
Staff writer Anne Blythe contributed to this article.