For Immediate Release
Evansville Felon Sentenced to Six and a Half Years in Federal Prison for Firearm and Drug Offenses, Including Illegal Possession of 3D Printed “Ghost Guns,” and Methamphetamine Trafficking
EVANSVILLE – Cody Pfettscher, 25, of Evansville, was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison for illegal possession of four unregistered, 3D printed smooth-bore pistols, possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance, carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. An additional charge of possession of a firearm by a felon was dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement.
According to court documents, on March 30, 2019, officers with the Evansville Police Department responded to a reported shooting at Pfettscher’s residence. Upon arriving, the officers discovered Pfettscher’s girlfriend with a gunshot wound to her abdomen and Pfettscher holding their infant son. Law enforcement officers searched the residence and located a pistol, four 3D printed firearms, one 3D printer, two laptops, marijuana, and marijuana paraphernalia. The victim was interviewed at the hospital and stated that Pfettscher was intoxicated and “playing” with the recently purchased pistol. Pfettscher shot and wounded her—nearly striking their infant son.
Analysis of the defendant’s electronic devices located schematics for the 3D printed firearms. The 3D printed firearms were examined and found to be “smooth-bore pistols,” a category of firearms that must be registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. The defendant had not registered those firearms, and the firearms did not bear any serial numbers, making them untraceable. Untraceable 3D printed plastic firearms of this type are referred to as “ghost guns.” Ghost guns are unserialized, privately made firearms increasingly recovered by law enforcement at crime scenes across the country. Because ghost guns lack the serial numbers marked on other firearms, they are impossible for law enforcement to trace through the ATF’s National Tracing Center.
On April 18, 2019, Pfettscher was convicted of a felony offense in Warrick County, Indiana. As a result of this conviction, he was prohibited from lawfully possessing firearms or ammunition. On March 4, 2021, a Vanderburgh County Deputy Sheriff stopped a vehicle in which Pfettscher was a passenger. At the time of the stop, Pfettscher had a bag of methamphetamine and a 9mm bullet in his pocket. The Deputy searched the vehicle and found a 9mm pistol, more methamphetamine, bags used to package drugs, and a sales ledger, all belonging to Pfettscher. In total, the deputy seized 15.9 grams of methamphetamine, packaged for sale to other users, and $445 in U.S. currency.
“Illegal ghost guns pose a growing threat to our communities—especially in the hands of drug dealers and other criminals,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “Our office will prioritize prosecutions of armed drug traffickers. These individuals poison our communities for their own greed with no regard for the people they hurt and kill. The significant sentence imposed in this case demonstrates that emerging technologies will not deter federal, state, and local law enforcement from pursuing dangerous criminals and holding them accountable.”
“Illegal, untraceable firearms have no place in our community, much less in the hands of a prohibited person,” stated Travis S. Riddle, Acting ATF Special Agent in Charge for the Columbus Field Division. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to keep firearms out of the hands of those who are not legally able to possess them.”
The Evansville Police Department and Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office investigated the cases. The Vanderburgh County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also provided valuable assistance. The combined sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young following the defendant’s guilty pleas in two cases. As part of the sentence, Judge Young ordered that the defendant be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 3 years following his release from prison.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristian R. Mukoski who prosecuted this case.
U.S. Attorney Myers named AUSA Mukoski as the Office’s “Ghost Gun” Coordinator, as a part of the Department of Justice’s National Ghost Gun Initiative. The initiative was launched in February 2022 in response to the proliferation of ghost guns in our communities, and the growing number of criminals who unlawfully use or possess these untraceable weapons. The Attorney General directed U.S. Attorney’s Offices to train a national cadre of prosecutors as experts to lead investigations and prosecutions of crimes involving ghost guns. These ghost gun coordinators will also share investigation and prosecution tools with other prosecutors and law enforcement officers. As part of the initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana will focus its investigation and prosecution resources on combating the illegal possession and use of ghost guns
This case is also part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement, and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.