Eight Accused of Gunrunning for the IRA
BOSTON (AP) _ Eight men, four of them illegal aliens from Ireland, were accused Wednesday of trying to smuggle guns and an anti-aircraft missile to the outlawed arm of the Irish Republican Army, authorities said.
Among those arrested by undercover FBI agents posing as weapons dealers was the younger brother of a member of the Boston City Council.
A complaint from the U.S. attorney’s office alleged the eight conspired to violate the Arms Export Control Act. The maximum penalty for violating the act is five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
The complaint said defendants John Angus MacDonald, 36, and Noel B. Murphy, 26, negotiated with an undercover agent for more than a year to buy 100 M-16 rifles, two MP-5 submachine guns, 100 rounds of ammunition for each weapon and a Red Eye surface-to-air missile for $73,000.
The Red Eye missile is a short-range, anti-aircraft missile that can be fired by a man like a rifle.
Murphy and three other defendants were Irish natives living illegally in the United States, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Stearns.
According to the complaint, Murphy told undercover FBI agent George Burttram that he was acting as broker ″to ingratiate himself″ with IRA leaders, although he also expected to receive at least $30,000 in the deal.
Murphy named Cairan Hughes as his IRA contact, the complaint said.
Hughes, 24, was said to be an illegal alien from Belfast who has lived in the Boston area for two months. He was among those arrested Tuesday in a sweep at Hanscom Field, an airport in Bedford where he and the five other defendants went to unload the weapons from a plane, the complaint said.
Magistrate Joyce London Alexander ordered the four Irish natives to be held by federal marshals until a detention hearing Friday so the U.S. attorney’s office may complete a background check on them.
The four Boston defendants were ordered held until a bail hearing Thursday.
Among thosee arrested was Michael Paul McLaughlin, 27, of Boston, younger brother of City Councilor Brian J. McLaughlin. The councilor did not return three calls to his office Thursday seeking information about McLaughlin.
The others arrested were McDonald’s brother, Steven, 34, and Roy Paul Willey Jr., 27, both of Boston; John Fitzgerald, 29, of County Kerry in the Irish Republic; and Jim Boyle, 35, of Donegal, also in the Irish Republic.
Last month, a federal grand jury indicted six Massachusetts men and a jailed Irishman on charges of running a gun-smuggling ring into Ireland and smuggling tons of marijuana into the United States.