Undercover customs agents posing as arms dealers arrested a Santa Monica marine engine dealer and a Canadian associate for allegedly attempting to smuggle 56 handguns to Japan, a U.S. Customs Service spokeswoman said Friday.
Zenichi Kato, 29, identified as a Japanese citizen living here, and Jack Sha, 30, of British Columbia, were taken into custody Thursday evening after they reportedly purchased the weapons from the agents and hid them inside four marine engines that were ready for air shipment to Tokyo.
In addition to delivering the handguns ordered by the suspects, said customs service spokeswoman Maryanne Noonan, the agents gave them an M-16 automatic rifle. But the rifle was too big to fit inside the engine and was returned to the supposed arms dealers.
Noonan said the pair had ordered a total of 200 weapons, including the M-16, an M-14 rifle and an Ingram submachine gun.