ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It was a massive raid with agents taking more than a thousand guns from an Albuquerque man’s home and business, but now that man is suing.
His guns were returned to him, but he said they never should have been taken in the first place. After the criminal charges were dropped, he said he’s still feeling the effects of what he says was an illegal search and seizure of his property.
It happened three years ago. Agents lined up rifles and loaded up handguns at the northeast Albuquerque home.
Neighbors took notice. “I didn’t really see the guns but from a distance. I saw them pulling them out into the front yard,” a neighbor told KRQE News 13 in January of 2013.
Special Agent Frank Ortiz with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office got federal warrants to search the property of Robert Adams, an Albuquerque man accused of smuggling guns into the U.S. as part of a scheme to get around tax laws.
Agents took about 1,600 guns.
They acknowledged Adams was a licensed gun supplier but said at the time that they suspected he removed serial numbers from many guns so they couldn’t be traced.
Adams’ attorney tells News 13 that Adams just collects a lot of rare, old guns.
“Most of these firearms are over 50 years old,” said Attorney Vincent Ward. “They date back to conflicts and wars that we read about in books.”
Charges against Adams were dismissed, his guns returned and now he is suing.
“The point of this lawsuit is simply to make Mr. Adams whole,” his attorney said.
He said his legitimate business of buying and selling guns suffered, he took a hit to his reputation and claims many of the guns he got back were ruined.
He posted pictures on his website.
“They damaged them. They broke them, scraped them. They took them apart,” Ward said.
Adams is suing the State Attorney General’s Office for violating his civil rights with illegal searches and seizures, saying the agent who got the search warrants, Ortiz, never had probable cause.
KRQE reached out to the Attorney General’s Office. A spokesperson had no comment, except to point out this happened during the previous administration. He referred KRQE to the Risk Management Division of General Services, saying it handles legal matters.
Adams’ attorney estimates the damages at more than a million dollars.