DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Michigan

For Immediate Release

Thursday, December 15, 2022
Mark A. Totten
, United States Attorney

Eleven Men Face Drug and Firearm Charges, Including for Sale of “Switches” That Turn Semi-Automatic Pistols Into Fully Automatic Machineguns

Joint Investigation Led by FBI and Involved Ten Other Federal, State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — At a 3:00 p.m. press conference in Benton Harbor this afternoon, U.S. Attorney Mark Totten was joined by several local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement officials to announce that, earlier today, eleven men from Benton Harbor and Grand Rapids, Michigan were charged with drug trafficking and firearms crimes. Five were arrested this morning, and five were in custody on prior charges. Seven men face charges related to the possession and transfer of firearm conversion devices, known as “switches,” which transform ordinary semi-automatic pistols into fully automatic machineguns. According to a criminal complaint filed in the case, a switch can be installed with little technical knowledge in approximately one minute. Once installed, it can enable a semi-automatic pistol to fire over 1,000 rounds per minute with a single trigger pull.

“Today’s action represents a major step forward in our efforts to combat the rise of violent crime in Michigan,” said Mark Totten, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan. “The destructive capacity of a firearm equipped with a switch is staggering. These devices are an emerging threat to our communities, our children, our law enforcement officers, and anyone who stands in the path of their indiscriminate spray.” Totten also commended the joint law-enforcement effort behind today’s action: “These charges represent a remarkable, multi-agency effort that involved the FBI and ten other federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners working together to keep West Michigan families safe.”

Approximately 200 law enforcement officers executed the arrest and search warrants early this morning in Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids, and St. Joseph, Michigan, as well as Port St. Lucie, Florida. The charges include:

Name

Resident

Age

Charge

Evorion Anderson

Benton Harbor

20

Distribution of methamphetamine;

conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine

Jayvon Anthony

Benton Harbor

21

Possession or transfer of a machinegun; conspiracy to possess or transfer a machinegun; felon in possession of a firearm

Earl Austin IV

Benton Harbor

21

Distribution of methamphetamine; conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; possession or transfer of a machinegun; conspiracy to possess or transfer a machinegun

Quincy Bowman

Benton Harbor

25

Conspiracy to possess or transfer a machinegun

Omarion Branch

Benton Harbor

19

Felon in possession of a firearm

Torez Burnett

Benton Harbor

20

Conspiracy to possess or transfer a machinegun

Nicholas Hallo

Grand Rapids

32

Felon in possession of a firearm

Demetrius Seuell

Benton Harbor

22

Possession or transfer of a machine gun and conspiracy to possess or transfer a machinegun

Timothy Thomas

Benton Harbor

25

Felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition

Armando Villanueva

Grand Rapids

22

Conspiracy to possess or transfer a machinegun

Eric Williams

Grand Rapids

23

Conspiracy to possess or transfer a machinegun

“Fighting violent crime requires approaches tailored to the needs of individual communities. That is why our approach to disrupting this conspiracy to distribute firearms, switches, and drugs involved the kind of coordination you see here today,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Michigan. “I believe it is the sacred duty of the FBI and our law enforcement partners to ensure people can live free from fear in their own homes and neighborhoods, and we will all continue to do everything we can to protect our communities from violent crime.”

“Conversion devices are not simple firearms parts or metal accessories, as commonly advertised. When a person uses an illegally converted weapon that shoots multiple rounds by a single function, it poses an even more serious threat to public safety,” said Craig Kailimai, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Detroit Field Division. “The collaborative effort and commitment between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, our Federal, State of Michigan, and Local partners to investigate and prosecute these cases protects our communities from this violent threat.”

The complaint included these photographs of uninstalled and installed switches as illustrations:

Two photographs displaying an assembled conversion device and a disassembled conversion device

Two photographs displaying installed conversion devices

The investigation was led by the FBI, acting in cooperation with the Michigan State Police Southwest Enforcement Team (“SWET”), ATF, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety, Benton Township Police Department, Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Tribal Police, Michigan Department of Corrections, and United States Postal Inspection Service.

The charges in a complaint are merely accusations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law. A copy of the criminal complaint can be found here.

Law enforcement continues to search for Eric Williams. Members of the public with information as to Williams’s whereabouts are encouraged to contact the United States Marshals Service at (616) 456-2438. He is believed to be located in either Benton Harbor or Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A photograph of Eric Williams

Eric Williams

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Detroit Field Division