For Immediate Release
Jacksonville Man Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Selling Machinegun-Conversion Device to Undercover Agent
Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis has sentenced Darnell Donya Rice, Jr. (28, Jacksonville) to five years in federal prison for possession and transfer of a device designed for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun and making a false written statement to a federally licensed firearms dealer during the acquisition of a firearm. Rice had pleaded guilty on August 22, 2022.
According to court documents, on November 30, 2021, a confidential informant and an undercover special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) met with Rice outside of his home in Jacksonville. The confidential informant asked Rice if they could purchase two 9mm firearms that day. Rice declined, explaining that it was too late in the day, but asked if the pair knew anyone with a “Glock,” referring to a Glock semiautomatic pistol. Rice explained that he had a Glock “switch” for sale. A Glock “switch” or “auto-switch” is a device that, when properly installed on the rear slide portion of a Glock pistol, converts the pistol into a machinegun, allowing the weapon to automatically shoot more than one round of ammunition with a single pull of the trigger. The undercover agent proposed buying the switch that day and a Glock pistol the next day for a total sale price of $1,800. After Rice agreed, he retrieved a Glock switch from inside his home and provided it to the agent, who gave him $1,000.
The following day, the undercover ATF agent met again with Rice and paid him $800 in advance for the Glock pistol. Rice then went to a federally licensed gun store and purchased a Glock 9mm semiautomatic pistol for $542.82. In connection with the transaction, Rice completed and signed a Firearms Transaction Record (also known as ATF-Form 4473). On that form, Rice falsely affirmed that he was the actual buyer of the pistol, never disclosing that, in truth, he was buying it for the undercover agent. Afterwards, Rice met with the agent and gave him the newly purchased Glock pistol.
On December 9, 2022, shortly before 2:00 p.m., several law enforcement agents and officers drove in multiple vehicles to Rice’s home to execute a search warrant. As they were arriving, Rice, who was in the front of his home, pointed a loaded pistol toward an approaching van that contained four federal agents. After subduing and arresting Rice, agents and officers searched his home. Inside, they found a total of 23 additional firearms, including 17 semiautomatic pistols, 5 semiautomatic rifles, and a shotgun. One of the pistols had an obliterated serial number. One of the semiautomatic rifles was equipped with a bump stock-type device – a device designed to enable the rifle to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger, making it a machinegun. In addition to the 23 firearms (9 of which were loaded), the agents located more than 3,400 rounds of ammunition in the home.
Investigators have determined that beginning no later than 2018 until his arrest in 2021, Rice was engaged in the business of dealing firearms without a federal license, specifically, by frequently buying and selling firearms for profit. He used social media accounts to offer firearms and ammunition for sale and to communicate with customers. When interviewed by ATF agents, Rice stated that he had been buying and selling guns since he was 18 years old and estimated that he had bought and sold hundreds of guns, obtaining them from a variety of sources. Records from one gun store in Jacksonville show that Rice had purchased 77 firearms from that single location, paying a total of approximately $29,515. Those records show that Rice had made the bulk of his purchases with cash, at times purchased more than one firearm at a time (as many as four at a time), and often purchased the identical make and model of firearm multiple times.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Coolican.
This case is 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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.