WASHINGTON — Four firearms dealers, including a Tehachapi, Calif., man, have been indicted as part of a nationwide conspiracy to produce illegal machine guns and silencers that have been traced to drug traffickers and convicted felons, federal officials announced Friday.
The indictments culminated a yearlong investigation into allegations that two companies, REJM Enterprises of Tehachapi and SWD Inc. of Atlanta, were involved in a scheme to market kits and parts from which machine guns and silencers could be readily assembled, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said.
It charged that SWD "aided and abetted" REJM Enterprises "in the illegal manufacture and distribution of firearms, including silencers." Machine guns and silencers are among the most stringently controlled firearms; prior authority to assemble them must be obtained from the bureau, and individual owners must register them with authorities.
"We are alleging that one company manufactured some parts, another the rest, and the parts were advertised and sold with the knowledge that they could, and were in fact, being illegally assembled," said the bureau's director, Stephen E. Higgins. The indictments were unsealed Friday in Fresno and announced by Higgins at a news conference here.
A total of 289 machine guns, 196 silencers and 246 machine-gun/silencer kits were seized as a result of the investigation.
"These represent a very large number of machine guns and silencers with the potential for crimes to be committed," Higgins said. The illegal weapons were linked to drug and firearms traffickers, convicted felons and illegal machine-gun factories, and the bureau has recommended the prosecution of 25 additional persons.
Indicted on charges of violating federal firearms laws were Robert E.J. Morris, 33, who operates REJM Enterprises, and three officials of SWD, Sylvia W. Daniel, 31; her stepson, Wayne Everett (Buddy) Daniel, 21, and her former husband, Wayne Ernest Daniel, 44. Sylvia and Buddy Daniel were arrested Thursday, while agents still were searching for Wayne Daniel. Morris was not taken into custody.
Named in the indictment but not formally charged were LaVista Armament Supply of Louisville, Ky.; Joseph T. Ledbetter and James Travis Motes of L&M Guns of Smyrna, Ga., and Juderal E. Hall of Jud's Machine & Fabrication of Carrollton, Ga.
A search of the facilities at SWD disclosed a large quantity of silencer and machine-gun parts as well as invoices for the distribution of parts and kits, the bureau said.
Guns With Silencers
According to the indictment, the Atlanta firm sold five internal silencer part kits to Morris. Morris was charged on several counts for possessing weapons not registered in his name, including a .22-caliber rifle with a silencer and a silencer for a .45-caliber machine gun.
Jack Killorin, head of public affairs for the bureau, said an investigation of Morris' activities led agents to uncover the nationwide scheme.
Possession of silencers is prohibited in most states, Higgins said, noting that a $500 federal tax on their manufacture, along with a $200 tax for individual possession, makes them too expensive for most persons to afford. He added: "There is no legitimate business purpose for that weapon."