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2 men charged after 111 guns stolen from South Side rail yard

Two men were hit with federal gun charges in connection with the theft of 111 weapons from a cargo train resting overnight in a South Side rail yard earlier this year.

Alexander Peebles and Warren Gates were charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The investigation found that eight other men also were involved in the theft of 111 of 318 firearms from a Ruger factory shipment, according to criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court.

It happened on April 12 at 8000 S. Chicago Avenue. About 7 a.m., railroad employees inspecting the train noticed multiple locks and seals were cut open. The train, which came from Ruger’s New Hampshire factory, continued on to its final destination in Spokane, Washington, where authorities found that 111 of the Ruger factory firearms were missing, according to a federal affidavit. Seventy of those firearms were .22 caliber weapons.

On May 16, authorities caught two men trying to steal from the South Side rail yard. One of those men told authorities he had information about the firearm robbery. That led authorities to Peebles’ home, where several of the firearms were recovered. Cellphone records also placed Peebles near the yard and making about four calls the morning of the robbery.

Authorities also have recovered six of the stolen firearms in unrelated incidents throughout Chicago. Those firearms matched the serial numbers of the missing guns.

An arrest warrant for Peebles was issued on June 5. He turned himself in at ATF headquarters in Chicago on June 8.

In a statement, Peebles admitted he participated in the robbery along with nine other people. Each of them took about 13 firearms. Peebles kept one for himself and sold 12 to someone he knew — a man named “Chuck” — for a total of $2,220.

Peebles sold the guns to the man a few days after the robbery. That man was later identified as Gates, who has been convicted multiple times and is prohibited from possessing firearms. The two exchanged the money and guns on April 13 in a storage facilty in Matteson, according to the affidavit.

Authorities learned that the storage unit was being rented by Gates who was known for having stolen items from trains, the documents said. During the search, law enforcement officers recovered electronics, clothing and shoes. All appeared to be brand new, still in the original box and with tags, documents show.

According to railroad police, many of the items appeared to be stolen from a cargo train shipment.

During a search at Peebles’ home, authorities found a loaded Ruger gun on the top of his dresser. A search of the gun’s serial code revealed it was one of the stolen firearms, documents show.

Peebles was convicted of felony theft on March 10, 2014, and sentenced to four years in prison.

Chicago Police and railroad police are still investigating the source of the other recovered items.