GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) – A Grand Rapids man charged with smuggling handguns to his native Lebanon has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act.

Gilbert Oscar Elian, 55, entered the plea Friday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. He faces up to 5 years in prison when sentenced.

A criminal complaint said Elian, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, bought 93 handguns from 2012-2014 at retail outlets in the Grand Rapids area, drawing attention from federal authorities.

He was arrested after 20 disassembled guns were found in June in a shipment of auto parts bound for Beirut as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials investigated gun smuggling.

Homeland Security said Elian exported or tried to export about 18 shipments since 2004, mostly recently in March. Federal investigators say that they found handguns hidden in shipments of auto parts from his business Prestige Imports.

Elian earlier indicated that he didn’t know he needed an export license and said the guns were properly checked in by airport security.

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