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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, February 26, 2024

Evansville Felon Charged with Possession of a Ghost Gun and Dozens of “Glock Switches” Made Using a 3D Printer

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Marquel D. Payne, 39, of Evansville, with one count of possession of a firearm as a convicted felon and one count of possession of a machinegun.

According to the criminal complaint, on January 31, Evansville Police Department officers observed Payne in possession of a 3D printer while conducting surveillance near his residence. Investigators had received information that Payne was manufacturing machine gun parts using a 3D printer before the surveillance began.

Investigators obtained search warrants for Payne’s residence and other locations he controlled. During the searches, investigators found approximately 60 plastic machine gun conversion devices, a 9mm personally made handgun, also known as a “ghost gun” due to its lack of any traceable serial numbering, an AR-15 rifle, a 3D printer, plastic printing filament, a 3D printed firearm silencer and 9mm caliber ammunition.

Machinegun conversion devices sometimes called “Glock switches” or “auto-sears” are devices that convert ordinary semiautomatic firearms into fully automatic machineguns. Machinegun conversion devices are themselves considered machineguns under federal law, even when not installed, and are illegal for individuals to produce, possess or sell. The hand grip of the 9mm ghost gun was allegedly produced by Payne using a 3D printer. Other parts of the ghost gun were produced in Pennsylvania.

At the time of his arrest, Payne had been previously convicted of numerous felonies, including escape, carrying a handgun without a license and criminal recklessness while armed with a deadly weapon. These prior felony convictions prohibit Payne from ever again legally possessing a firearm.

“Getting illegal machinegun conversion devices off our streets is a critical public safety priority. Fully automatic weapons and untraceable ‘ghost guns’ pose a serious danger to our communities, especially when they are in the hands of people who have no lawful business possessing any firearm,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “This prosecution is the result of quick and impactful investigative work by our outstanding partners at the Evansville-Vanderburgh Crime Gun Intelligence Center. Together we are committed to saving lives and reducing gun violence by combining intelligence and resources to investigate and prosecute dangerous offenders.”

“Unfortunately, these deadly conversion devices continue to show up in our communities,” stated Daryl S. McCormick, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Columbus Field Division. “U.S. law has long recognized that automatic weapons pose a special risk to public safety, both through the sheer volume of bullets fired and the likelihood that innocent bystanders will be injured or killed. Combine that with an untraceable firearm and an unregistered silencer in the hands of a convicted felon, and it is clear that this individual is solely interested in feeding violence in southern Indiana. ATF will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who use and distribute machine gun conversion devices.”

“My office applied for and was awarded a $700,000 federal grant to form the crime gun intelligence center where our mission is clear: to work with our state and federal partners to combat the rising crime in Vanderburgh County. We are now seeing the fruits of our labor,” said Prosecutor Diana Moers. “My office and our state and federal partners will stop at nothing to identify and prosecute any who seek to commit violent crimes in our community - this case is a result of teamwork and, with our agencies working together, we expect more cases like this: we are ahead of criminal activity and not simply reacting. Anyone planning to break the law in Vanderburgh County should swiftly reconsider.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Evansville Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC), the Evansville Police Department, and Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office investigated this case. If convicted, Payne faces up to 15 years in federal prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd S. Shellenbarger, who is prosecuting this case.

In October 2023, the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office, Sheriff’s Office and Evansville Police Department secured a nearly $700,000 federal grant to establish a Crime Gun Intelligence Center. The goal of the Evansville-Vanderburgh Crime Gun Intelligence Center is to quickly identify and reduce the amount of gun crime in the Evansville-Vanderburgh County area by providing intelligence, analysis, and resources between agencies for the swift identification and apprehension of suspected armed criminals.

The Department of Justice’s National Ghost Gun 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 combating the illegal possession and use of ghost guns.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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