Illegal Assault Gun Makers Busted By Feds

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Two Sacramento brothers were indicted on numerous federal weapons violations for making illegal assault weapons for sale.

Emilliano Cortez-Garcia and Luis Cortez-Garcia ran a machine shop on Florin Road near Florin-Perkins Road which sold incomplete assault rifle parts, but they also allegedly built complete assault guns without serial numbers, which can only be done by gun enthusiasts who build guns for personal use.

The lower trigger mechanism for assault rifles like the AR15 are commonly sold as blanks because they are incomplete until milling process is finished.  U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Benjamin Wagner said the brothers built guns to order by milling out the blanks and building the guns.  Sonetimes they would have the customers play a small role in building the gun by pushing the button on a drill press for instance.

The brothers were part of a network of assault gun builders that operated in West Sacramento, Antelope, Placerville, Fresno and locations in the Bay Area.  Eleven search warrants yielded 345 guns including short barreled assault rifles, fully automatic machine guns and silencers.  None of them are traceable with serial numbers.

Wagner said it was a concerted effort to circumvent federal gun manufacturing laws and that it was a danger to the public.

Undercover purchases were made by an informant who had a felony record.  Federal authorities say untraceable assault weapons in the hands of criminals is a big problem for law enforcement.

The investigation is on-going and more search warrants are in the works. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent Joseph Riehl said gun enthusiasts who build their own guns have to be careful that they don’t have others do some of the work for them to keep from running afoul of federal gun laws. He suggested that they check with ATFE to make sure they are following the rules.

He also said the problem of illegal assault weapon manufacturing isn’t going away.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Riehl said.

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