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City man sentenced in international gun running scheme

A Vicksburg man has been sentenced to almost six years in prison after pleading guilty March 28 in U.S. District Court in Jackson to illegally shipping guns to London, England.

Maurice Taylor, 33, no address listed, was sentenced to 70 months by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Tom S. Lee at a sentencing hearing Thursday. He was charged with conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, according to U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.

Taylor was also placed on three years’ post-release supervision and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations, and the London Metropolitan Police Service.

According to federal authorities, Taylor carried out a scheme in which he shipped stolen firearms from Mississippi to a co-conspirator in London.

He prepared two separate packages containing stolen firearms concealed within children’s toys and mailed the packages to London in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

DNA evidence confirmed that Taylor, who is a convicted felon, was one of the people who handled the firearms, which were stolen days earlier during a burglary of a pawn shop in Natchez.

Taylor texted to his co-conspirator messages and photos of the guns he would mail, and received back from London confirmation numbers for wired payments for the guns through a mobile phone.

After the London Metropolitan Police arrested Taylor’s partner, they seized his phone and several firearms from his car. Evidence of the communications and the electronic payments were retrieved from the co-conspirator’s phone.