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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Massachusetts
Rachael S. Rollins, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Monday, March 27, 2023

Boston Men Indicted for Unlawful Trafficking of Machinegun Conversion Devices

BOSTON – Two Boston men have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston for illegally selling a dozen machinegun conversion devices.

Elijah Navarro, 24, and Michael Wilkerson, 22, were indicted on one count each of engaging in the business as a manufacturer or dealer in firearms. Wilkerson and Navarro were also indicted on one count and two counts, respectively, of transferring or possessing a machine gun. The defendants were previously arrested and charged by criminal complaint on Feb. 16, 2023.

“When we look at crime data for Boston in 2022, our city remains one of very few urban centers in the country where overall violent crime remains down. Every illegal firearm and conversion device we take off the street is preventing a potential homicide, shooting or maiming. Every piece of illegal ammunition we seize represents a life saved. The proliferation of illegal firearms and deadly conversion devices in our Commonwealth is a public health and a public safety crisis,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Mr. Navarro and Mr. Wilkerson allegedly possessed unregistered machinegun conversion devices that turn already deadly firearms into weapons of war. Our city is far too familiar with the deadly and devastating effects of gun violence. In 2021, we had 40 homicides in Boston and in 2022 we had 41 homicides. The overwhelming majority of those murders were committed with an unregistered firearm by a person expressly prohibited from possessing one. According to the Boston Police Department, fatal shootings rose by eight between 2021 and 2022. Every case we charge that removes an illegal firearm, conversion device or ammunition from the streets of Boston and Massachusetts and ultimately holds prohibited users accountable matters. We will continue to charge these types of cases and work closely with our state, local and federal law enforcement partners to end gun violence.”

“Circumventing the law by selling unregistered machine guns, and operating as a licensed dealer without the benefit of following the legal requirements is egregious, particularly when the result is providing unlawful possessors with access to fully automatic firearms”, James M. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “ATF will continue to actively enforce federal firearms laws to keep our communities safe.”

“It is this type of cooperative effort with our federal partners at the ATF and the U.S. Attorney's Office that allows us to take dangerous individuals off our streets and to lessen the availability of high-powered firearms in our City,” said Boston Police Commissioner Michael A. Cox. “We will continue to work together to stem the tide of illegal guns in Boston utilizing all city, state and federal resources available to us in doing so.”

According to the charging documents, in January 2023, Navarro agreed to sell 12 machinegun conversion devices to an individual in exchange for $1,700. It is alleged that, following a series of communications, Navarro met the individual twice at a pre-arranged location. It is alleged that on Jan. 19, 2023, Navarro sold the first two machinegun conversion devices to the individual for $400 and later, on Jan. 25, 2023, Navarro sold the remaining 10 devices for an additional $1,300 out of Wilkerson’s residence.

It is alleged that during a search of Wilkerson’s residence on Feb. 16, 2023, two 3-D printers, 3-D printing material, machinegun conversion devices, a ballistic vest as well as firearms, ammunition and magazines were seized.

Neither Navarro nor Wilkerson possess licenses to import, manufacture, deal or possess firearms.

The charge of engaging in the business as a manufacturer or dealer in firearms provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $10,000. The charge of unlawful transferring or possession of a machinegun provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

U.S. Attorney Rollins, ATF SAC Ferguson and BPD Commissioner Cox made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Dawley of Rollins’ Organized Crime & Gang Unit is prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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