Septuagenarian charged with manufacturing “ghost guns”

Published 7:29 am Wednesday, June 16, 2021

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McALLEN, Texas – A 73-year-old has been charged for selling illegally manufactured and unregistered firearms suppressors destined for a Mexican drug cartel, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Lowery.

A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment today against William Scott Simms. He made his initial appearance May 28 following his arrest, at which time he was ordered into custody pending further criminal proceedings. He is expected to appear again in the near future before a U.S. magistrate judge on the charges contained in the indictment.

Simms is charged with aiding and abetting the attempt to illegally export a silencer, possession of 11 unregistered machine and possession of an unregistered silencer.

Simms allegedly planned to sell illegally manufactured and unregistered firearm suppressors. The alleged recipients were members of a Mexican drug cartel seeking to purchase weapons to be illegally exported into Mexico. The charges further allege Simms illegally manufactured 11 fully-automatic firearms to be sold for $10,000 each.

Simms manufactured the machine guns without any identifying serial numbers, according to the criminal complaint originally filed in the case. Such firearms are commonly known as “ghost guns” because they are more difficult to trace their origins.

If convicted, Simms faces up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine for each charge.

The Department of Justice launched Operation Guardian which targeted firearms and illegal export of firearms in November 2019. On April 8, President Biden issued executive orders specifically targeting the manufacturing and transfer of ghost guns.

Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Guerra Jr. is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.