Eight Indicted in Illegal Gun Manufacturing, Sale

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SACRAMENTO--

Eight men were indicted in federal court Thursday on dozens of charges relating to, among other things, manufacturing and selling guns without a license.

All it takes is 12 minutes.

You can build an untraceable rifle, using some pretty common equipment and parts bought on the Internet, in just 12 minutes, according to ATF agent Graham Barlowe.

And it's legal. As long as you don't sell it.

"Firearms constructed in the same manner have started to show up in crime scenes all over California," said U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner at a press conference.

Thursday, a grand jury handed up an indictment for eight men who were selling firearms and silencers they had built themselves from parts. And they had built a lot of them -- 238 guns and silencers were sold to an undercover agent in Sacramento.

"Most of the weapons we located were manufactured in San Joaquin County," Wagner said.

Daniel and David Bennett, two brothers who live just outside of Stockton, were building them, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

At the same time, the younger brother, 27-year-old David Bennett, whose Facebook page identifies him as a former Army police officer, had started working for the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department as a corrections officer.

"Fortunately for us, [he] is a probationary employee, and since been released from probation, so he's no longer affiliated with the office, said San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore.

Most of the rifles they manufactured had no serial numbers, no record of their sale, and no way to trace them, according to investigators.

So selling them is illegal.

In a text conversation detailed in the court papers investigators say one of the black market dealers, 29-year-old Charlie Tucker of  Stockton, asks David Bennett who he should pay for the "baby AR."

Selling short barreled shot guns, and selling silencers, is illegal under the same law that prohibits selling fully automatic rifles.

Here are the defendants and charges:

  • Joseph Latu, 29, is charged with conspiracy to manufacture and deal firearms without a license, possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle, possession of an unregistered silencer, possession of an unserialized firearm.
  • Algernon Tamasoa, 27, is charged with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, dealing firearms without a license, possession of an unserialized firearm, and distribution of MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy or "molly").
  • John Ortiz, 43, is charged with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, dealing firearms without a license, and possession of an unserialized firearm.
  • Keith White, 40, is charged with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, dealing firearms without a license, and possession of an unserialized firearm.
  • Charles Tucker, 29, is charged with dealing firearms without a license, conspiracy to manufacture and deal firearms without a license, possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle, possession of an unregistered silencer, and possession of an unserialized firearm.
  • Ionel Pascan, 28, is charged with dealing firearms without a license, conspiracy to manufacture and deal firearms without a license, possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle, possession of an unregistered silencer, and possession of an unserialized firearm.
  • Daniel Bennet, 39, is charged with conspiracy to manufacture and deal firearms without a license.
  • David Bennet is charged with conspiracy to manufacture and deal firearms without a license.