On November 2, 2022, John Milton Lee, 63, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced by United States District Judge James A. Soto to 33 months in prison. On May 16, 2022, Lee was convicted by a federal jury of Smuggling Goods from the United States and Impeding and Threatening a Federal Officer.
On November 1, 2019, Lee disrupted operations at the Lukeville Port-of-Entry in an hour-long armed standoff where he repeatedly threatened to shoot and kill five United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers with a FN High Power 88 semi-automatic 9 mm handgun tucked into his coat. Lee also had a fully loaded AR-15 assault rifle within arm’s reach, as well as three fully loaded 30-round high-capacity AR-15 magazines in his pocket during the armed standoff.
As Lee made repeated threats to shoot the officers, the officers could see the defendant’s hand and wrist muscles moving on the firearm hidden in his coat. The officers did not use lethal force and instead spent nearly an hour trying to de-escalate the dangerous situation and negotiated with Lee to try to get him to surrender – to no avail.
This armed standoff had a significant impact on the lives of Lee’s victims. One officer testified that, since that potentially deadly day, he has worn his body armor every day at work – even in the stifling heat of the Arizona summer – because he realized “what could have been lost” and that “any border inspection could erupt into a dangerous situation.”
The officers were finally able to gain control over Lee after they tased him when it became clear that he would not surrender on his own accord. At sentencing, Judge Soto told Lee that he was lucky to be alive and that the officers were particularly patient and had shown great restraint .
After Lee was arrested, a search of his vehicle revealed an additional six firearms including a Tavor Model SAR .223 caliber firearm; a HK 91 .308 caliber rifle; a .22 caliber rifle; two .45 caliber firearms; and a .44 Mag caliber firearm. All of the firearms were fully loaded with a round in the chamber and ready to fire. Also discovered were 1,962 rounds of ammunition. Lee had more firepower in his vehicle than all the officers on scene combined.