Tahlequah Daily Press

February 27, 2013

Third man arrested in theft of 50 guns

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Investigators arrested a Tahlequah High School student this week in connection to a late-2011 home burglary during which more than 50 firearms were stolen.

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Investigator James Brown said Allen Nelson was arrested at THS Monday and was booked into jail on a burglary charge.

Nelson was a juvenile when he allegedly participated in the burglary of a former police officer’s home at Wildcat Point. He is expected to face local charges, though two other men – 20-year-old Tyler Brent Stacey and 21-year-old Mohammad “Moe” Ziyada – were indicted on federal conspiracy charges in January.

Stacey pleaded guilty to the federal conspiracy charge last week, and Ziyada entered a guilty plea this week.

Brown said a fourth alleged participant spoke with investigators Monday and will also face local charges related to the burglary.

The arrests are the culmination of a year-long probe involving several local, state and federal agencies. Brown said a former police officer and member of the special forces reported a home burglary in December 2011.

Deputies said three large safes with more than 50 firearms were stolen from the house, along with a large amount of other property.

Stacey had allegedly been a guest at several parties thrown at the home, and was interviewed as a person of interest just days after the home burglary. But authorities didn’t have enough information at that time to make an arrest.

Then in June 2012, a man in western Oklahoma purchased a firearm from Ziyada, who was employed in that part of the state along with Stacey.

Brown said the buyer contacted investigators when he heard the firearm had been stolen from Cherokee County. Ziyada and Stacey were eventually arrested and charged with knowingly concealing stolen property in Beckham County.

Some time later, a man who had more than two dozen of the stolen firearms contacted investigators, and they were able to retrieve the guns.

One of the stolen firearms turned up in Dover, N.J., last month, Brown said.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Muskogee, prosecutors believe the missing firearms were concealed, stored, bartered, sold or otherwise disposed of.

Stacey and Ziyada could each face up to five years in federal prison, and a fine of up to $250,000, for the conspiracy charges. Nelson has not been formally charged in Cherokee County District Court.