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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

ATF Press Release

Contact: ATF PIO Ginger Colbrun
For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 21, 2022

Multi-Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty to Firearms and Narcotics Charges

Privately Made Firearm Seized on Him During Arrest

SANTA ANA, California – A previously convicted felon from Orange County pleaded guilty to federal firearm- and drug-related charges after being arrested with a privately made firearm and narcotics while on probation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced today. Privately made firearms are commonly referred to as “ghost guns.”

Joseph Daniel Miller, 41, of Santa Ana, pleaded guilty earlier this week to possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of ammunition.

On Jan. 5, 2021, in the parking lot of a Del Taco restaurant in Newport Beach, Miller possessed approximately 127 grams of methamphetamine and small amounts of other controlled substances, including heroin and cocaine. He also possessed drug paraphernalia consist with items used to sell drugs, including two digital scales; three bundles of unused small zip-lock baggies; one bundle of larger unused baggies; and a fixed blade.

According to his plea agreement, Miller’s cellphone contained multiple, separate chains of text messages in which he was taking orders for drug sales and making arrangements to meet customers for the purpose of delivering drugs to them.

At the same time, tucked in Miller’s waistband was a privately made Polymer80, 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, bearing no serial number, loaded with 14 rounds of ammunition. This all occurred while Miller was on probation in Orange County.

Miller’s previous felony convictions date back to 2011, including receiving stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime – namely, to bring controlled substances into a county jail – sale or transportation of controlled substance, and domestic battery with corporal injury.

United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney has scheduled an August 8 sentencing hearing. The statutory mandatory minimum sentence for the intent to distribute charge is 10-year imprisonment, five years of supervised release, plus a $100 special assessment fee. The felon-in-possession-of-ammunition charge is punishable by a maximum 10 years in prison; three years supervised release; fine of up to $250,000.  

Miller was initially investigated by Long Beach Police Department. LBPD learned of a Miller’s probation warrant and provided information to federal law enforcement. Miller was ultimately located and apprehended by the United States Marshal Service’s Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force. ATF participates in the fugitive investigation and was part of the apprehension. Upon Miller’s arrest, ATF was the lead agency filing the federal felony charges with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California resulting in Miller’s federal felony guilty plea. Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Keenan of the USAO’s Santa Ana Branch Office is prosecuting this case.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is part of the fugitive task force. ATF remains committed to working with its local and federal partners to investigate firearms-related charges and provide resources to reduce violent crime in our communities. For more information, follow ATF LAFD on Twitter @LosAngelesATF.


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