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Federal Agents Raid Mo. Gun Dealers

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- Federal authorities descended on three gun dealers early Tuesday, armed with sealed search warrants and looking for evidence of firearms violations.

Agents could be seen carrying what appeared to be weapons from two businesses, Gunsmoke Gun & Pawn and a dealer of Wesley Richards rifles. The two businesses share a one-story building and are owned by the same person, said Larry Scott, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Scott would not identify the owner, nor would not say whether anyone was taken into custody during the raids. He also refused to comment on the types of evidence agents were looking for.

"I can tell you it's federal firearms violations," Scott said.

Two moving vans sat in front of the building Tuesday morning, ready to haul away evidence, Scott said.

A third dealer, Gunsmoke Gun and Gold Exchange, also was raided, he said. It is owned by another gun dealer, whom Scott also would not identify.

City business records indicate Gunsmoke Gun & Pawn and the Wesley Richards dealership are licensed by Nancy Francis, of Greene County. Gunsmoke Gun and Gold Exchange is licensed by Cathleen Schlichting, of Springfield.

A message left Tuesday morning by The Associated Press at Francis' home was not immediately returned; Schlichting has an unpublished listing.

Agents arrived at the dealers at about 5:30 a.m. Scott said about 100 agents were involved in the operation, including officers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the ATF, Springfield police, the Greene County Sheriff's Department and the Internal Revenue Service.

He said he didn't expect charges to be announced on Tuesday. Scott said the raids were the culmination of a three-year investigation.

Businesses in Marshfield and another in Mountain Grove also were raided Tuesday morning for federal firearms violations, but Scott said those were the result of a separate investigation.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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