For Immediate Release
KC Gun Store Owner Pleads Guilty to Selling Machinegun Components
Marketed Conversion Devices as ‘Cell Phone Holders’ on Website
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The owner of a Kansas City, Missouri, gun store pleaded guilty in federal court today to selling components to convert firearms into machine guns, which he marketed on his website as “cell phone holders.”
Charles Lee Weston, 37, of Kansas City, Mo., waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to a federal information that charges him with one count of illegally possessing a machinegun.
Weston, a federal firearms licensee, is the owner of Drum Magazines, LLC, at 4015 Sterling Avenue in Kansas City, Mo.
According to today’s plea agreement, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives identified a website operated by Weston that was selling multiple items believed to be machineguns. Those items included a drop in auto-sear, which is intended to convert an AR-15 type firearm into a fully automatic firearm. Because the conversion devices were each a part designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, each device is considered a machinegun under federal law.
The device, however, was being marketed on the website as a “cell phone holder.” An undercover agent purchased the set of two devices online for $149.99.
An undercover agent visited Drum Magazines on Aug. 4, 2021. The undercover agent asked Weston if he had any “cell phone holders.” Weston retrieved two swift link auto sears (capable of quickly converting semi-automatic AR-type rifles to fully automatic) from the back of the store and gave them to the undercover agent. The agent asked Weston if the devices would work in 300 BLK or just .223-caliber. Weston replied, “Every caliber. It’s more of a trigger setup. As long as your mil-spec trigger. But ya, it’ll work. You got me answering questions correctly.” Weston, acknowledging that he had actually described the true purpose of the device, laughed and said, “The proper answer would be ‘Whatever phone you got, sir.’” Weston again laughed and then stated, “You the first one that got me to answer the question like that. I’m tired.” Weston added, “I hate this (expletive) country and the (expletive) laws they have.” The undercover agent paid Weston $324.82 for the two devices and one extended magazine and left the business.
On Aug. 26, 2021, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Drum Magazines and at Weston’s residence. Officers seized a box that contained Glock full auto switches and instructions and a piece of a suspected 3D printed auto sear.
Under federal statutes, Weston is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad K. Kavanaugh. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.