National Security

ATF agents seize weapons from Blackwater's N.C. facility

Agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have confiscated nearly two dozen automatic rifles from Blackwater Worldwide, the private security contractor and firearms training company in Moyock, N.C.

The move came two days after a story in The News & Observer raised questions about the legality of Blackwater's deals to buy the guns for the Camden County Sheriff's Department. The security firm kept the rifles at its giant firearms training facility and used them in training law enforcement officers and members of the military.

All told, Blackwater bought 17 Romanian-made AK-47 assault rifles and 17 Bushmaster M-16-style rifles for the sheriff's department. That was nearly enough assault rifles for Camden's 19 deputies to carry two apiece, but none of the deputies was qualified to use AK-47s, and they only shot them at Blackwater, Sheriff Tony Perry said in an interview last week.

Perry said the AK-47s and five of the Bushmasters were stored at Blackwater, while his department kept 12 Bushmasters.

Company spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said ATF agents came to Blackwater Tuesday and took all the rifles there owned by Camden.

"It was not a raid," she said. "We were cooperative."

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