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Gun trafficking suspect taken into custody after standoff

Federal agents negotiate by telephone for about 90 minutes before the St. Petersburg man, accused of selling guns illegally, surrenders.

By JOUNICE L. NEALY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 26, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- A little before sunrise Thursday, federal agents and St. Petersburg police officers surrounded the house of a man suspected of illegally selling guns to undercover officers.

But Ronald Swain, a 47-year-old felon, refused to come out.

So federal agents had to negotiate with Swain by telephone for about 90 minutes before he surrendered peacefully, officials said. Streets were blocked off to keep onlookers out and ensure that Swain would not get away.

About 7:30 a.m., Swain walked out of his house at 4755 11th Ave. S and was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.

"Negotiators did a very good job talking with him," said Steve Cole, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. "He came out without incident. There were no injuries." Investigators said they used no tear gas.

Swain was held without bail at the Hillsborough County Jail after prosecutors argued that he was a threat to society.

Agents seized at least two handguns, a telescopic gun sight, shell casings and bullets. Cole declined to comment on the items that the agents recovered.

Swain, who also goes by Rodney Swain and uses different birth dates, has a criminal record that dates back to 1973.

Thursday's arrest stems from two incidents described by agents in a criminal complaint. In February, Swain sold a 9mm semiautomatic rifle to an undercover agent and a confidential informer who came to Swain's house, according to the complaint.

Earlier this month, agents bought a Smith & Wesson .44-caliber Magnum revolver from Swain, who told agents he had access to other guns, including a MINI-14 assault rifle and an SKS assault rifle, the complaint said.

Because Swain is a felon, he is not allowed to sell or own firearms. Since 1973, he has been arrested on charges of larceny, robbery, rape, possession and sale of cocaine, and carrying a concealed weapon, state records show. In 1998, he was charged with possession of a weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, records show.

-- Times staff photographer Jamie Francis contributed to this report.

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