DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

Thursday, January 7, 2016
Benjamin B. Wagner
, United States Attorney
Contact: Lauren Horwood

Auburn Man Indicted for Illegally Manufacturing Firearms

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Craig Mason, 44, of Auburn, charging him with unlawful dealing and manufacturing firearms and manufacturing marijuana, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, Mason and others involved in the scheme sold the parts necessary to assemble a firearm. Mason operated a workshop on his property that he used to manufacture firearms by converting AR-15-style blanks into lower receivers.

A “blank” is a metal casting that is not considered a firearm by ATF. It is converted into a “lower receiver” by using a drill press or automated machine to create the precise shape and space necessary for the lower receiver to accept the parts that will allow the firing of a projectile. These parts (e.g., the hammer, bolt or breechlock, and firing mechanism) are the internal mechanical parts that combine with a trigger, firing pin, and other parts to form a functioning firearm. Once the blank is converted to a lower receiver, it is considered firearm by statute, even if there is no barrel, handle, or trigger, etc., and it is subject to regulation.

On April 23, 2013, Mason manufactured two AR-15-style lower receivers for an ATF confidential informant. Despite being told that the confidential informant had been to prison and therefore prohibited from possessing a firearm, Mason created the firearms and sold his services to the confidential informant.

During execution of a federal search warrant on Mason’s property, law enforcement officers encountered an active marijuana grow with 24 mature marijuana plants ranging in size from two-feet to seven-feet tall. Inside of the garage attached to Mason’s residence, law enforcement discovered an active marijuana processing operation including 15 drying lines containing five pounds of processed marijuana, and an ice chest concealing three and a half pounds of processed marijuana.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; California Attorney General's Division of Law Enforcement; California Highway Patrol; Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department; Sacramento Police Department; and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Lee is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Mason faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Field Division: San Francisco Field Division