The man accused of bringing 19 prohibited semiautomatic handguns across the Canadian border is a self-proclaimed professional gambler who fled to Las Vegas last year because his life was in danger, CTV News has learned.

It was the return trip, months later, to bring his three teenage children to visit his estranged wife for spring break, where Scott Maccallum Osborne was stopped at the border, his car searched, and the weapons discovered in panels of his vehicles, documents related to the case show.

“He was coming up to have the children visit their mom,” said Lawrence Myers, Q.C., Osborne’s lawyer. “There’s a presumption of innocence in our country and that carries throughout. The evidence will reveal a completely different story than what the media has its hands on.”

Osborne now faces 27 charges including possessing restricted firearms, making false statements to authorities and smuggling. Court records show Osborne, 46, is a dual American and Canadian citizen and doesn’t have any criminal convictions in B.C.

But other court documents reveal that the Vancouver police had concerns about his associates.

“In September 2017, Vancouver Police Organized Crime unit informed (Osborne) that a hit had been put out on him,” wrote his ex-wife Vanessa Osborne, in an affidavit. “(The Ministry) said we should move with the children.”

The force warned B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Services about a credible threat to his life, which would impact the children, documents show.

“The Director received a child protection report from the Vancouver Police Department Gang Crime Unit confirming they had provided Scott a 'duty to warn' that Scott’s life was at risk of imminent harm as a result of his ongoing criminal involvement and threats associated with that involvement,” Kathryn Morgan of the Ministry of Child and Family Services wrote.

In November, Osborne moved to Nevada, the documents say.

Osborne calls himself a “professional gambler” in court filings, but it’s not clear about the extent of his gambling. He didn’t answer phone calls from CTV News.

He included a photo of a royal flush in his court documents as the type of hand he would play. Another document says the couple owns a home on Lake Whatcom and a boat. They had also accumulated significant debt, Vanessa Osborne wrote.

Their assets also included firearms, she wrote.

“I am aware that during the marriage the Respondent (Osborne) owned guns,” she said.

At the press conference showing off the weapons, border guards called the seizure significant. Only about 580 guns were seized nationwide in the past year, meaning this seizure was just over 3 per cent of the total.

“These guns were not just seized, they were prevented from winding up in our communities,” said Daniela Evans, the director of the Pacific Highway District.

Border guards are crediting a firearm-sniffing dog named Pheonix for helping nab the alleged gun runner at the Peace Arch border crossing.

The Canadian Border Services Agency said he was trying to enter the country from the U.S. on March 23 when officers caught him with a semiautomatic handgun.

The detector dog then helped to uncover a number of hidden compartments in his vehicle.

"Further examination of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of a total of 19 handguns and 32 over-capacity magazines hidden behind various panels," said Evans.

He was released from custody on a $50,000 deposit, but didn't surrender his passport. He's scheduled to return to Surrey provincial court for trial next year.