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Two plead guilty in gun smuggling sting

FARGO -- Two men pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Fargo to charges stemming from a gun smuggling sting Feb. 5 outside a Grand Forks motel, according to a prosecutor.

As part of a plea deal, Shawn Hartnell, 29, of Fort Frances, Ontario, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to export firearms illegally, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Chase said.

Dylan Dowton, 20, of Jerome, Idaho, pleaded guilty to aiding Hartnell, a Canadian citizen, in illegally obtaining firearms to smuggle into Canada.

Both men faced charges with maximum penalties of 10 years in prison, but the plea agreement will reduce their sentences. Their sentencing hearings haven't been announced.

Hartnell had been smuggling firearms into Canada for more than a year, Chase said.

According to the indictment, Hartnell sent Dowton $10,000 to buy guns in Idaho and deliver them to Grand Forks. Hartnell then sold six semiautomatic weapons for $24,000 to undercover U.S. and Canadian agents posing as Canadian buyers in the parking lot of the Settle Inn in Grand Forks.