A Quebec man has admitted to using a library straddling the border between the United States and Canada as a base for a plot to smuggle guns between the two countries.
Alexis Vlachos earlier this week pleaded guilty to smuggling and firearm charges in a Vermont court. The 40-year-old Canadian citizen is facing up to 20 years behind bars, according to a release from the office of Vermont’s U.S. District attorney.
Prosecutors alleged Vlachos worked with two Americans to purchase at least 100 handguns in Florida in an effort to smuggle them into Quebec by way of New York and Vermont.
On at least two occasions, the American pair stashed backpacks full of contraband in the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, built more than a century ago as a symbol of friendship between the United States and its neighbor to the north.
A black line on the floor marks the international border between the United States and Canada at the Haskell Free Library and Opera House.
Vlahchos would then enter the building, pick up the bag of firearms and walk them into Canada. Other guns were carried across a separate, remote stretch of the border.
His co-conspirators, Annette Wexler from Tampa and Jamie Ruiz of New York, both previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the smuggling scheme.
Ruiz died due to illness before his sentencing and Wexler was sentenced to time served and two years of supervised release in July 2017, according to the release.
Wexler’s lawyer, Robert Katims, insisted Vlachos was the mastermind behind the plot, according to the Caledonian Record.