Nov 23, 2023

Roxbury men charged with selling 3D

By Abby Patkin

Two Roxbury men are facing federal firearms charges after allegedly storing and selling 3D-printed devices capable of turning regular semi-automatic firearms into machine guns.

Elijah Navarro and Michael Wilkerson were arrested last week and face charges related to making or selling firearms without government registration, as well as transferring or possessing machine guns, court documents show.

The Boston Police Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began investigating Navarro in January for his alleged involvement in a firearms manufacturing and trafficking operation, ATF Special Agent Michael Romeo wrote in an affidavit filed in federal court.

The ATF arranged to have a confidential witness purchase 12 machine gun conversion kits — also known as "switches" or "Glock chips" — from Navarro for a total of $1,700, according to the affidavit. Those kits are considered machine guns under federal law, as they enable guns to fire multiple rounds with a single pull of a trigger, Romeo wrote.

An attorney for Navarro could not immediately be reached for comment.

On Feb. 16, the ATF and Boston police executed a search warrant on Wilkerson's home, where they found eight machine gun conversion kits consistent with the ones Navarro allegedly sold, Romeo wrote in a separate affidavit.

Officers also found a ballistic vest, ammunition, a loaded semi-automatic firearm with an "obliterated serial number," and paraphernalia consistent with manufacturing machine gun conversion devices, according to the affidavit.

After he had been read his Miranda Rights, Wilkerson allegedly told police that he was involved in making machine gun conversion devices, that the conversion kits found in his bedroom belonged to him, and that he was involved in selling the devices for a profit, Romeo wrote.

Wilkerson initially faced state charges in Roxbury Municipal Court but was later charged in federal court, documents show. He did not have an attorney on record for the federal charges, and the defense attorney listed for his district court case could not be reached by phone Thursday.

Glock switches are part of a growing trend across Massachusetts; James Ferguson, special agent in charge at ATF's Boston Field Division, recently told Boston 25 that some criminals 3D-print the devices themselves or order them online.

"A 3D printer that's capable of producing a Glock switch can be purchased for under $300 dollars," Ferguson told the news outlet. "It's clearly an uphill battle, and the ATF can't do it alone."

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