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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of New York
For Immediate Release
Damian Williams, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-sdny
Thursday, July 21, 2022

Connecticut Man Charged in Manhattan for Trafficking “Ghost” Guns

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and John B. DeVito, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), announced that MELVIN BURROUGHS was charged in a superseding indictment with conspiring to traffic firearms, trafficking firearms, and being a felon in possession of ammunition.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, the defendant—a convicted felon—was in the business of building and selling untraceable ‘ghost guns.’  Thanks to our law enforcement partners, his dangerous ghost gun business has been shut down.”

ATF New York Special Agent-in-Charge John B. DeVito said:  “ATF has no higher priority than stopping the flow of illegal guns of any kind. This case sends a clear message to those who seek to produce ghost guns for the criminal marketplace. The NYC Crime Gun Intelligence allows law enforcement to identify patterns, leads, and potential suspects such as in this case; in order to make our communities safer.   Thanks to the collaboration with the NYPD Major Case Field Intelligence Team, NYSP and Ansonia CT Police Department for their hard work.”

According to the allegations in the Superseding Indictment[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court and in other public court documents:

From approximately 2019 through approximately January 2022, BURROUGHS purchased the parts for “ghost guns,” assembled the parts into completed firearms, and then illegally sold the working and completed firearms. 

Based on review of surveillance video capturing the event from multiple angles, on March 14, 2021, BURROUGHS exited his house in Ansonia, Connecticut with a handgun and—in broad daylight—discharged five rounds at two men who had approached his house. 

The Ansonia Police Department searched BURROUGHS’s house the next day.  According to police reports and photographs documenting the search, law enforcement officers located two completed Glock-style privately made firearms (commonly known as “ghost guns”), and a .50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol that had been reported stolen in Georgia.  Law enforcement officers also recovered a custom-made red and black AR-15-style rifle with the words “SUU WHOOP” inscribed on it.  “Suu whoop” is a gang call of the Bloods street gang, and red is the color of the Bloods street gang.  A photograph of the rifle is below:

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AR-15-style rifle with the words “SUU WHOOP” inscribed on it.

During the search of BURROUGHS’s house, and in addition to the four firearms described above, law enforcement officers also recovered large quantities of ammunition, various gun parts and tools for making ghost guns, and a flamethrower. 

In connection with the shooting and search of his residence, BURROUGHS was charged in Superior Court of Connecticut – Ansonia-Milford Judicial District in Milford, Connecticut with Connecticut state offenses of threatening in the first degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree, criminal mischief in the third degree, illegal discharge of a firearm, criminal use of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm or ammunition, and attempt to commit first degree assault.  BURROUGHS was released on bail conditions.  

On January 8, 2022, BURROUGHS was arrested in Westchester County, New York with kits to build 17 ghost guns, a completed lower receiver[2] for an AR-15 rifle, 15 extended magazines, and an 18-inch machete.  A photograph of the items seized from BURROUGHS on January 8, 2022 is below:

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Firearms and items seized from Burroughs on January 8, 2022

After BURROUGHS was arrested on January 8, 2022, law enforcement agents searched multiple cellphones belonging to BURROUGHS pursuant to search warrants.  Evidence on those cellphones, including text message communications, videos, and photographs, establishes that BURROUGHS has been unlawfully selling firearms since approximately 2019.  In particular, the evidence shows that BURROUGHS’s gun trafficking business involves purchasing ghost gun parts online or at gun shows, building the ghost guns at his home, and then selling the completed firearms.  One of BURROUGHS’s cellphones contained a photograph, below, of 15 ghost gun kits that BURROUGHS purchased in approximately February 2021. 

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15 ghost gun kits that BURROUGHS purchased in approximately February 2021

BURROUGHS, 35, of Ansonia, Connecticut, is charged with: (1) one count of conspiracy to traffic firearms, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, (2) one count of trafficking firearms, which carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, and (3) one count of being a felon in possession of ammunition.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the ATF.  Mr. Williams also thanked the New York City Police Department, the Ansonia Police Department, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the Connecticut Office of the State’s Attorney for Ansonia-Milford, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut for their assistance in the case.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Mead is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges in the Superseding Indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 
[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Superseding Indictment and other assertions in public court documents, and the descriptions of those documents set forth in this release constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

[2] A “lower receiver” or “frame” is the bottom part of a firearm and the basic unit of a firearm, which, in an AR-15 rifle, houses parts related to the trigger, magazine, and hammer.

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