Bellevue resident, brother get prison for smuggling gun parts

SEATTLE -- A Bellevue resident and his Thai citizen brother were sentenced to prison Friday for illegally shipping more than $750,000 worth of gun parts to Thailand, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to the Attorney's Office, Naris Lekhakul, 42, would order the parts while in Thailand and have them shipped to the Bellevue home of his brother, 36-year-old Nares Lekhakul.

Nares would disguise the shipments of gun parts, labeling them things like "replacement springs and metal caps for bottling machine" and "glow-in-the-dark marker sets" and send them along to Thailand.

"These defendants purposely circumvented U.S. arms controls put in place to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of transnational criminal organizations and foreign enemies," Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Brad Bench said in a press release.

After a multi-year investigation, Naris was arrested in June at SeaTac Airport and Nares was arrested that same month.

In U.S. District Court Friday, Nares was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of supervised release. Naris received three years in prison and will likely be deported upon his release.

"These defendants used patsies and ruses to hide and protect their scheme to smuggle firearms parts to Thailand," U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a press release. "They knew they were violating Thai and U.S. laws that seek to prevent smuggling."

One of Nares disguised shipments of gun parts was intercepted by authorities in 2011. After that, Naris recruited four other people to receive his orders and send them to Thailand, according to the Attorney's Office.

Two of those men, U.S. citizens living in Los Angeles were sentenced to 10 months in prison. A Thai citizen living in Berkeley received probation. A second Thai citizen living in Las Vegas is awaiting sentencing.

All told, the Lekhakul brothers made more than 250 illegal shipments of gun parts, according to the Attorney's Office.