One day, Michael Andrew Ryan sat down at a computer, hopped onto a hidden part of the Internet known as the dark Web, called himself “Gunrunner” and opened for business. His international weapons operation offered anyone a virtual laundry list of weapons with brand names that have become disturbingly familiar:
To make these guns hard to trace, Gunrunner took off their serial numbers and shipped them to countries where buying these guns was difficult — if not altogether banned by law. And it was all happening under the noses of the residents of the sleepy little town of Manhattan, Kansas, population: about 56,000/
Gunrunner wasn’t some dramatic villain like you might see in a Hollywood comic book thriller. He was just a 35-year-old guy in America‘s Heartland, illegally exporting semi-automatic rifles, handguns and ammunition to Ireland, Scotland, Australia and England. It just so happened that Ryan’s online gun-selling operation got busted by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
“The fact that international firearms trafficking has reached Kansas shows the power of the Internet,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall in a statement.