Franklin man accused by feds of making and selling ‘ghost weapons’, including machine guns

INDIANAPOLIS — Alexander Clark, 26, Franklin, has been charged by criminal complaint with the federal offenses of selling firearms without a license, possessing and/or transferring machine guns, and manufacturing machine guns.

According to court documents, in May 2022, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) opened an investigation into Clark for the illegal manufacture and sale of privately manufactured firearms, including including machine guns. Over the next few months, ATF agents conducted a covert investigation and purchased several 3D-printed Glock-style guns and devices from Clark capable of converting semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic machine guns. A search warrant was executed at Clark’s residence on August 22, in conjunction with the criminal complaint, and Clark was subsequently arrested.

During the search of Clark’s residence, law enforcement officers seized approximately 30 firearms, including several 3D-printed firearms, several “Glock switches” used to convert firearms into machine guns , a suspected fully automatic AR-15 rifle, 3D printing filament, a laptop with an on-screen Glock frame connected to a 3D printer, and a silencer.

Clark does not have a federal firearms license authorizing him to sell firearms and he had not registered the guns in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Registry as required for this category of firearms, investigators said. 3D printed guns of this type cannot be found and are called “ghost guns”. Ghost guns are privately made firearms without serial numbers that are increasingly being recovered by law enforcement from crime scenes across the country. Because ghost guns do not have the serial numbers stamped on other firearms, it is impossible for law enforcement to trace them through the ATF’s National Tracing Center.

Clark made his first court appearance on Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and was taken into custody pending a hearing. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana and Daryl S. McCormick, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Columbus Field Division made the announcement.

The ATF is investigating this case in conjunction with the Columbus, Indiana, police department.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jayson McGrath who is prosecuting the case.

This case is being brought under the Department of Justice’s National Ghost Gun Initiative. The initiative was launched in February 2022 in response to the proliferation of phantom guns in our communities and the growing number of criminals who illegally use or possess these untraceable weapons. The Attorney General has directed the United States Attorney’s Offices to train a national cadre of prosecutors as experts to investigate and prosecute crimes involving ghost weapons. These Ghost Weapon Coordinators will also share investigative and prosecutorial tools with other prosecutors and law enforcement officers. As part of this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana will focus its investigative and prosecutorial resources on combating the illegal possession, use, and sale of ghost weapons.

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