DETROIT - Federal authorities suspect thousands of machine gun conversion devices have been illegally imported into the United States.
They've turned up in Rhode Island and Chicago, and now according to court records they're turning up on the streets of Detroit. The devices turn a firearm into a machine gun.
"In these instances where these conversion kits are used, you can pull the trigger once and that gun will continue to fire as a machine gun," said Special Agent James Deir, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in Detroit.
ATF agents like Deir are actively working to locate the devices and retrieve them.
"Well it's a public safety concern, for sure," he said.
This is what we know so far:
According to federal court paperwork, ATF and customs officials in Chicago identified more than 2,900 packages containing conversion devices "that are believed to have been shipped into the U.S." under false customs declarations.
"(It) turns that firearm into a fully automatic weapon," said Deir.
Special Agent Deir is particularly concerned because these devices have started showing up in Detroit. The Local 4 Defenders have learned Trevon Bryant has been charged with possessing one of the Glock pistol machine gun conversion kits. According to court records, Bryant "stated he fired the firearm and it functioned fully automatic." Federal agents found the illegal device inside Bryant's home in the 12000 block of Asbury Park.
The feds also showed up on Grayton Street on the city's east side. After some investigating they tracked down Jefferey Davis. According to court records, heroin, cocaine, $10,000 in cash, two stolen guns as well as a Glock conversion device were found inside Davis' home.
"We definitely do not want those devices out on the streets," said Deir. "If you look at what these devices are intended to do, (they) make it very easy for individuals to shoot rapid rounds."
Linked to Chinese website
According to court records, the illegal devices are linked to a Chinese website. These devices are being illegally imported into the United States.
"But even if an individual doesn't have that firearm yet, but they have taken steps to buy that conversion piece with an anticipation of buying the firearm, that conversion piece which can be a simple piece of metal is illegal to possess," said Deir.
Federal agents are focused on these devices landing in the hands of people who may be a danger to the community.
"Bottom line is if you're not properly trained on the use of a machine gun, you really shouldn't be experimenting with it," said Deir. "Especially on the streets of Detroit or elsewhere in the state of Michigan."
The ATF says they are also looking for the people who have ordered these items thinking it was legal. They need to contact the ATF and surrender the item. If a person is caught with the illegal device, prison sentences can range up to 10 years.
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