MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A Montreal man was brought to the U.S. to face charges he smuggled handguns into Canada, including some that were hidden in the bathroom of a public library that straddles the nations' border, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Alexis Vlachos, 40, was taken into custody in Canada and then arrested by U.S. authorities on May 31 at the Canadian border.
Between July 2010 and April 2011, Vlachos worked with others to get about 100 handguns that had been purchased from licensed dealers in Florida into Canada via Vermont, U.S. prosecutors said.
Authorities say that in one instance, Vlachos retrieved handguns that had been left for him in the Haskell Library, which straddles the border in Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec. The entrance to the library is in Vermont and Canadians can visit the library without going through a port of entry.
The U.S. attorney's office did not say when Vlachos was arrested in Canada.
He pleaded not guilty earlier this month in federal court in Vermont, and he was being held pending trial. His attorney did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment. If convicted, Vlachos faces up to 20 years in prison.
Canadian politicians have long blamed weapons smuggled in illegally from the United States for gun violence in Canada. Ownership of such weapons is severely restricted in Canada.
The five-count 2015 federal indictment against Vlachos said he gave cash to a Florida woman and another person to buy certain handguns. The weapons were purchased in the Tampa, Florida, area and then brought to Vermont by car, investigators said.
On March 25, 2011, Vlachos allegedly retrieved a backpack containing a number of handguns that had been left in the bathroom of the Haskell Library and took them back to Canada without going through a port of entry. Vlachos is also alleged to have carried handguns into Canada in April 2011 by hiking across the border in a remote section of northeastern Vermont.