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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Indiana
Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Monday, November 21, 2022

Austin Felon Sentenced to 7 Years in Federal Prison for Manufacture and Sale of “Ghost Guns” and Dealing Methamphetamine

NEW ALBANY –Christopher M. Caudill, 38, of Austin, Indiana, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison after pleading guilty to distribution of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

According to court documents, between July 12, 2021, and February 17, 2022, Caudill sold drugs and firearms to a confidential informant on five separate occasions, illegally distributing a total of 41.9 grams of methamphetamine. In addition to his distribution of methamphetamine, Caudill sold the confidential informant a silencer, two privately made Glock-style 9mm pistols bearing no serial numbers, and an AR-stye 5.56m rife bearing no serial number. Caudill personally assembled the three firearms using parts and kits he purchased online.

These types of privately made firearms are untraceable and are referred to as “ghost guns.” Ghost guns are unserialized, privately made firearms increasingly recovered by law enforcement officers at crime scenes across the country. Because ghost guns lack the serial numbers marked on other firearms, they are impossible for law enforcement agencies to trace through the ATF’s National Tracing Center.

Caudill has a 2016 felony conviction in Scott County, Indiana, for possession of methamphetamine. Caudill is prohibited from possessing a firearm by federal law due to this prior felony.

“Deadly weapons in the hands of violent criminals and drug traffickers pose a profound danger to our communities,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “Using parts and kits purchased online, this drug dealer and convicted felon manufactured and sold untraceable ‘ghost guns’—including an AR-style semiautomatic rifle and a silencer. The sentence imposed today demonstrates that our U.S. Attorney’s Office will work tirelessly with the ATF and all our law enforcement partners, including the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, to identify the most dangerous armed criminals, hold them accountable, and get them off our streets.”

“The illegal sale or transfer of privately made firearms presents a unique challenge for law enforcement,” stated Daryl S. McCormick, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “In this case, Caudill not only sold illegal drugs, he sold un-serialized, untraceable firearms and an unregistered silencer. When used by criminals, those firearms pose a safety threat to our community, and ATF will continue to work with our state and local partners to bring those trafficking these items to justice.”

The ATF Louisville Group IV investigated the case in conjunction with the Scott County Sheriff’s Office. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. As part of the sentence, Judge Pratt ordered that Caudill be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for three years following his release from federal prison.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew B. Miller who prosecuted this case.

This case is being brought 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 combatting the illegal possession, use, and sale of ghost guns.

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