FBI agents have arrested a Las Vegas man with international ties following an undercover operation in which he allegedly tried to buy an assault rifle to commit a robbery.
Benyiahia Hebbar, 46, who has a French passport and family ties in France, was taken into custody Aug. 12 after he negotiated the purchase of a modified AR-15 with a scope and silencer from a confidential FBI informant, a criminal complaint alleges.
He told the informant that he had lost money at a casino and needed the “fully automatic” weapon to rob an unidentified man to make up for the losses, according to the complaint, which was unsealed Monday.
Hebbar also told the informant during a secretly recorded conversation that he wanted a “potential victim’s” legs broken with a baseball bat and was willing to pay $1,000 per leg, the complaint alleges.
Following a hearing Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe ordered Hebbar to remain in federal custody while he faces a felony charge of unlawfully possessing a machine gun.
Koppe found that Hebbar, who is being represented by the federal public defender’s office, was a flight risk and danger to the community.
On Aug. 12, under the watchful eyes of agents assigned to the FBI’s organized crime squad, Hebbar met the informant in the parking lot of a Las Vegas business and was shown the assault rifle, according to the complaint. The informant told Hebbar the weapon was worth $20,000 to $30,000 on the black market.
After the AR-15 was put in the trunk of Hebbar’s vehicle, agents swooped in and arrested him, the complaint alleges. He had $30,772 in cash in a jacket pocket.
Hebbar said in court that he could not afford to hire a lawyer because agents seized all of his money.
Contact Jeff German at email@example.com or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.