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Arms dealer: Local link to gun in Paris attacks

Posted at 9:17 AM, Dec 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-11 09:17:39-05

UPDATE: International attention is now being turned on a non-descript building in Delray Beach, where Century Arms is housed.

The public wants to know how a gun once handled by the company ended up in the hands of the Paris attackers..

Sarah Levine works at a business next door.

"It's the first I'm hearing about it," Levine says. "That hits close to home I guess."

The Associated Press reported  that an M92 semiautomatic pistol was exported from a Serbian arms plant to the Delray Beach business in 2013.

The Serbian company stressed it was a legal transaction for a gun that can be purchased in America.

Now reports say that same gun is now linked to the Paris attacks, which killed 130 people.

It's not clear how the gun got back to Europe - and in the hands of  terrorists.

It's not known if the gun was modified at some point and turned into an automatic weapon for use in the attack.

Employees with Century were not keen on answering any questions Thursday  - NewsChannel 5 cameras were rolling as they literally jumped into their cars.

"The fact that there's any connection to the United States at all in this - it really makes you reflect on policies and procedures in this country," Levine says.

Century Arms has not been accused of wrongdoing.

The Contact 5 Investigators obtained the serial number of the gun in question.  We compared that serial number to a state database of stolen guns.  It does not match any of the guns listed as stolen in the state of Florida.  But, that's not to say the gun could have been illegally obtained once it left the state.

Finding out when, where and how any one gun fell off the radar and into the wrong hands is a difficult task.

"I don't think Century did anything illegal from what I've been told and understand," says Les Wexler, owner of K & W Gun Works.

Wexler says he deals with Century quite often.

"Century Arms or any import/export dealer has to ship to a bonafide licensed dealer," Wexler says. "It's strictly, strictly controlled."

Thursday's news, he says, only adds to the increasing scrutiny on gun sales in America.

"All of a sudden we're being labeled criminals because we have weapons," Wexler says. "And I don't think it's fair."

We have calls into the FBI, the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Century - so far they haven't been returned.

EARLIER STORY:

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — One of the guns linked to Islamic militants in the Paris attacks that killed 130 people was exported to the United States in 2013, the head of a Serbian arms factory said Thursday.

Milojko Brzakovic of the Zastava arms factory told The Associated Press that the M92 semi-automatic pistol's serial number matched one his company delivered to an American online arms dealer in May 2013. It was not clear how the gun got back to Europe.

At least seven of the weapons used or discovered after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris have been identified as being produced by the Serbian factory located in Kragujevac, in central Serbia. Most were manufactured before Yugoslavia broke up in a civil war in the 1990s and most of those are modified versions of the Soviet AK-47, or Kalashnikov.

Brzakovic said all the guns were delivered legally but could have later found their way into illegal channels.

"One was delivered to Bosnia in 1983, one to Skopje, Macedonia in December 1987, one to Golubici, near Knin (Croatia) in 1988, one to Zagreb (Croatia) 1987," he said.

He said the M92 pistol "is a semi-automatic weapon, a hunting and sporting weapon ... it cannot fire barrage fire, only single shots ... which are legal in America."

He said it was exported to an online arms seller in the United States, the Florida-based Century Arms, to which his factory exports up to 25,000 hunting and sports guns every year. (The AP said Century Arms is based on Congress Avenue in Delray Beach). He said the gun was delivered as a semi-automatic, but he did not know whether someone turned it into an automatic after delivery. The so-called "shortened Kalashnikov" is listed by U.S. arms dealers as selling for about $460 apiece.

The AP left messages seeking comment on the gun with Century Arms, the FBI and another U.S. government agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Brzakovic insisted that all arms exports from Serbia are under strict government control.

"We submit a request to our government to give consent and authorize the export. Until we receive that, we make no contract. Once we get a permission to export, we make a contract and arrange the dynamics," he said.

He said it would be wrong to accuse Zastava of selling weapons to terrorists.

"Here's where the weapons ended, there's the data. Zastava cannot be blamed for where it went afterward," Brzakovic said.

But he agreed that an illicit gun deal could have taken place even after arms were delivered legally.

"Wherever there are wars, there are bigger possibilities for abuse and to hide the channels for guns. They end up where they shouldn't," he said.

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Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this story.