BILLINGS — A Montana man who fled to Mexico after authorities began investigating him for illegal gun exports has agreed to plead guilty to federal weapons charges, court documents state.
Eric Daniel Doyle, 37, of Kalispell, eluded authorities for more than two years prior to his November apprehension by U.S. marshals and local authorities in the Mexican state of Sonora.
Authorities say he used the internet to find buyers for handguns and magazines in countries with strict weapons laws. The weapons were shipped through the U.S. Postal Service.
Doyle agreed to plead guilty to illegal exports and being a felon in possession of a firearm under a deal with prosecutors filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. He could face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
More than 40 additional charges would be dropped under the agreement, which needs approval from U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy.
Four alleged accomplices were previously sentenced. Among them was Doyle’s uncle, Jay Isles, also of Kalispell.
In sentencing the other defendants, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said the case had far-reaching implications because the alleged scheme’s customers resided in countries with highly-restrictive gun laws.
Beginning in 2014, Doyle shipped 25 to 35 firearms — primarily high-caliber handguns —to customers in Australia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Australia, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.
Doyle also acknowledged sales to customers in Canada and the United Kingdom during a 2014 interview with law enforcement, prior to his fleeing to Mexico.
A search of his storage unit that year resulted in the seizure of 15 semi-automatic pistols, 11 of them with serial numbers obliterated, according to prosecutors.