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Indian American held for illegal arms hoard

March 13, 2009 04:23 IST

An Indian American, arrested for keeping unauthorised weapons in his home in London, Arkansas, has been denied bail.

Dr Randeep Singh Mann was arrested on March 4 after federal agents searched his home and found a cache of unregistered, high-explosive grenades and guns at his home and nearby.

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found 110 fully automatic machine guns worth more than $1 million in his home. The search was conducted after public works employees found 98 grenades buried about 875 feet from Mann's house in the woods. The weaponry ranged from M-16s to a tripod-mounted .50-caliber sniper weapon.

Mann, 50, was charged with illegal possession of the grenades with possible further charges pending over the unregistered guns, officials told the court. Mann is legally licensed to own, buy and sell automatic weapons. But four of the guns were illegally in his possession.

The grenades are designed for firing from military rifles equipped with launchers, and Mann legally owns two launchers. However, possession of high-explosive rounds is illegal.

Agents also found $48,000 in cash at his home. Mann made about 60 trips in and out of the country over a two-year period, officials said. His father made 160 trips across the US border in the last two years, they alleged.

Pistols and semi-automatic weapons were found throughout the house. These included loaded pistols in the bedroom and machine guns on the floor and in closets and safes. They also found an estimated 500,000 rounds of small arms ammunition.

The prosecution claimed that his father, Colonel Kuldip Singh Mann, is an international arms dealer, a charge the defence attorney Blake Hendrix refuted.

'I believe that there is a preponderance of evidence that I can't trust you to follow the rules of any bond. I don't think I have an accurate picture of your financial wherewithal, and you also have contacts outside the country that would make it much easier [for you] than for another individual for you to flee the country,' reports quoted magistrate H David Young as saying at the hearing. No date was set for Mann's trial.

Mann, an internal medicine specialist, has faced disciplinary action from the state medical board for writing prescriptions to patients with drug abuse problems. Mann surrendered his permit to write prescriptions for many controlled substances in 2006. Last year, he wrote to the medical board saying that he was unable to work for hospitals without the permit.

Theresa Harris, mother of patient Ellie Harris, who died after receiving prescriptions from Mann, was at the hearing. 'I just came to see him in shackles,' she told the local media.

A Correspondent