By Jessica LeDuc
Blade staff writer
A joint operation between the Cloud County Sheriff's Department and Concordia Police Department led to the arrest last week of a Concordia man on federal weapons charges.
On Aug. 15, both departments, with assistance from agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives executed a search warrant in the 800 block of East 8th and arrested Richard Serafin, 44, and confiscated a number of firearms from his residence.
Cloud County Sheriff Brian Marks said he had been approached by an individual who gave him information that Serafin had weapons in his possession and had also sold a number of them. Marks said he gave that information to his investigator, who worked with the Concordia Police Department's investigator on the case. The two, Marks said, quickly found that Serafin had been arrested on weapons charges in Wyoming, and gathered enough evidence to obtain a search warrant.
"The investigation went further, and some individuals were interviewed and we were able to get enough information to get an arrest warrant," Marks said.
Concordia Police Chief Bruce Johnson said they contacted the ATF, who sent two agents to Concordia to assist with the arrest. The North Central Kansas STAR team, made up of officers from both Sheriff's and Police departments, along with the ATF agents moved in for the arrest.
"We used the STAR tactical team in order to get this done successfully and minimize the risk to anyone involved, including the suspect," Johnson said. "We knew he could be heavily armed, depending on where we happened to catch him.
"We tried to do this as judiciously as possible. We didn't want our people hurt and we didn't want the suspect hurt. There was no one at the residence when we executed the search warrant, so it was all done as safely as possible."
Serafin was not armed at the time of the arrest, and a number of firearms were removed from the residence.
"We took a number of firearms out of his residence that are not legal for an individual to have without a federal license," Johnson said. "And with him being a convicted felon, he couldn't have them anyway."
Johnson said it was apparent that Serafin had been making a business of selling weapons from the residence. Marks said Serafin also did not have a license to sell weapons.
"We have no concerns that he was working with anyone else," Johnson said. "We think it was a solo operation at this point."
In 2007, Serafin was charged in Casper, Wyo., with possession of firearms not in the national firearms registration and transfer record, and possession of firearms to further a crime of violence.
Serafin had told an undercover ATF agent he intended to travel to the Mexican border and harm illegal immigrants. In the course of that investigation, it was discovered Serafin was active in both white supremacist and anti-government militia circles in Wyoming.
After a weeklong jury trial, Serafin was sentenced in October 2007 to nearly seven years in federal prison for the firearms violations.
Johnson and Marks said they did not know what brought Serafin to Concordia. He had been here since the first of the year, Marks said. Johnson said they did not have any knowledge of Serafin's being active in any white supremacy groups in Concordia.
"We don't have any facts to support that," he said. "That doesn't mean he didn't have anything planned, but we don't have anything to show that he was actively doing it at this time."
Both Marks and Johnson said the investigation was successful because of the joint operation between both departments.
"This was a joint effort by both the police department and the sheriff's department," Marks said. "With the way the information all fell into place, it was a rather quick and easy apprehension."
Serafin was transported to federal prison in Topeka by ATF agents on Monday, where he will face federal charges.