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Forum News Service, Published November 04 2013

Canadian sentenced for gun smuggling

GRAND FORKS – Two men who pleaded guilty to smuggling guns to Canada after being arrested in Grand Forks were sentenced last month to federal prison.

But the stepmother of one of the men said undercover Mounties posing as Hell’s Angels intimidated Shawn Hartnell for months to do a gun deal.

Hartnell, 30, of Fort Frances, Ont., was sentenced Oct. 17 to 20 months in federal prison, followed by two years of probation, with credit for the nine months he’s served since his Feb. 5 arrest in Grand Forks.

His associate, Dylan Dowton, 20, of Jerome, Idaho, was sentenced to six months.

The men were caught in a sting at the Settle Inn motel in Grand Forks in February. Royal Canadian Mounted Police posing as Canadian smugglers paid Hartnell $24,000 in cash for six semiautomatic guns – four rifles and two handguns – they said they were going to sneak across the border. Agents of the Department of Homeland Security also were in on the sting.

Dowton and Hartnell met while working in North Dakota’s oilfields.

Last summer, they pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally export U.S. guns into Canada, where stricter gun laws make them worth more. Dowton pleaded guilty to aiding a noncitizen illegally obtain firearms.