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State police reclaim guns as part of missing firearms probe

Maryland State Police investigators on Tuesday took from Prince George’s County police more than 100 guns that had been seized by a state-run firearms task force as part of an ongoing investigation into a task force detective suspected of stealing guns and selling them on the street, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The move was to ensure that all of the rest of the guns seized by the Prince George's Firearms Interdiction Task Force were in the police property room as they should be, and at least preliminarily, it seems they all were, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Investigators are still probing what happened to 23 guns that had been seized by a task force detective and are now missing, sources said. Those guns apparently never made it to the Prince George’s County police property room as they should have.

Detective Juan Carter was suspended late last year. Sources familiar with the investigation said investigators are looking into whether he stole guns he had seized and sold them back on the street. One of the guns, sources said, appears to have been used in the shooting of off-duty Prince George’s County police officer Eric Horne in September.

Maj. Andrew Ellis, a Prince George’s County police spokesman, confirmed that Maryland State Police investigators had taken from the Prince George’s County Police Department’s property room all the guns seized by the task force, though he said he thought the matter was somewhat routine.

For months, Ellis said, Prince George’s County has not had an officer working on the task force, and it only made sense for the state police to have custody of guns seized by their investigators.

Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the Maryland State Police, said he could not confirm or deny whether the state police had reclaimed guns seized by the task force. He said the task force still operates in Prince George’s County under the umbrella of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, though it includes no members from the Prince George’s County Police Department.

-- Matt Zapotosky

By Matt Zapotosky  |  March 26, 2010; 12:58 PM ET
Categories:  Internal Affairs , Matt Zapotosky , Pr. George's  
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