Crawfordville Resident Sentenced For Firearm Offenses

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Press Release: U.S. Department of Justice

Updated: February 14, 2014, 4:45pm

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh announced that Albert Hendrik “Henk” Van Der Merwe, 46, of Crawfordville, Florida, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Robert Hinkle to serve 12 months in prison for importing merchandise under false invoice and for receiving unregistered silencers. Van Der Merwe will serve a three-year term of supervised release after his incarceration, during which he will be subject to search by his probation officer. As a consequence of this conviction, he cannot own or possess firearms. The court also entered an order forfeiting Van Der Merwe’s interest in three silencers and in an Uzi 9 millimeter carbine.

Van Der Merwe was arrested on April 10, 2013, after agents intercepted three silencers that he had ordered from South Africa under an invoice declaring them to be motorcycle parts. Messages retrieved from Van Der Merwe’s e-mail accounts reflected that he had ordered another silencer from the same supplier in the past, that he wanted these shipped “discretely,” and that he was interested in obtaining additional silencers for friends. He requested that the silencer for the Uzi be “full-auto rated.” Examination of the weapon determined that the Uzi had been converted to a machine gun.

U.S. Attorney Marsh credited the success of this prosecution to the joint efforts of the U.S. Customs Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael T. Simpson.

Press Release: U.S. Department of Justice

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh announced today that Albert Hendrik Van der Merwe, 46, also known as “Henk Van der Merwe,” has been charged by a federal grand jury sitting in Gainesville, Florida for importing silencers under fraudulent invoices, for receiving unregistered silencers, and for possession of a machinegun. Trial will be held in Tallahassee, Florida on September 3, 2013.

Van der Merwe was arrested on a related complaint on June 5, 2013. That complaint alleged that three silencers were found in a package sent to Van der Merwe from South Africa, on about April 3, 2013. The invoice described the devices as “motorcycle dampeners used in motorcycle exhausts.” Agents delivered the package and then executed a search warrant. A nine millimeter Uzi carbine was seized because it was compatible with one of the silencers. The carbine was later determined to be fully automatic.

Federal law prohibits the receipt or possession of a machinegun or silencer, unless it is registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. If convicted, Van der Merwe faces up to twenty years in prison for importing merchandise under a fraudulent invoice, and up to ten years in prison for receiving unregistered silencers and for possessing a machinegun. He also faces up to a three year term of supervised release and fines of up to $250,000 for each charge.

U.S. Attorney Marsh praised the joint efforts of Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, whose investigation led to the indictment in this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael T. Simpson is prosecuting this case.

An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial in a court of law.

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