Kansas man with loaded gun in partner's carry-on bag faces federal firearms charges

Kansas man with loaded gun in partner’s carry-on bag faces federal firearms charges

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A Kansas man was arrested at Cyril E. King Airport after federal officers allegedly found the loaded .38 caliber revolver in his traveling partner’s carry-on bag. 

Robert Dean Zoch was arrested and charged with two counts of failure to provide written notice of a firearm to a common carrier, and failure to report a firearm purchased outside or brought into the Virgin Islands, authorities said.

The case began on May 22, 2024, when Zoch was leaving St. Thomas from King Airport and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection dog alerted on a bag belonging to his travel partner.

The luggage of both people was then referred for secondary inspection, whereupon CBP officers discovered a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber Airweight revolver in Zoch’s checked bag. The weapon was loaded with five rounds of ammunition, and the bag also contained speedloaders with an additional 10 rounds of ammunition.‌

Zoch was detained and questioned by law enforcement officials, and reportedly admitted to knowingly bringing the gun along on the trip. He brought it for protection due to reports of shootings in the territory, he told Homeland Security agents, and did not secure it beforehand because he was in a hurry to leave. Zoch also reportedly admitted to not having a federal license for the weapon, not declaring it to the airline, and not declaring it when he landed in the USVI.

He was ultimately charged with two counts of failure to provide written notice of a firearm to a common carrier, and failure to report a firearm purchased outside or brought into the Virgin Islands.

When he was arrested in May, Zoch was released ahead of trial on the signing of a $15,000 unsecured bond, and restricted to the districts of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and the one covering Topeka, Kansas, where he resides.‌

His arraignment is scheduled for July 10.

On social media, Zoch says he is a “warehouse supervisor” of truck drivers for a pallet loading company in Topeka, Kansas.