Defendants Allegedly Sold Ghost Guns for More Than $25K in 2021
HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Samuel Snader, age 39, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Hector Colon, age 30, of Puerto Rico, were indicted on January 5, 2021, by a federal grand jury and charged with conspiracy to manufacture and deal firearms, and manufacturing and dealing firearms without a license.
“Ghost guns are a danger to public safety all across Pennsylvania and we must close the loophole that allows them to be sold without a background check,” said AG Shapiro. “We are committed across local, state, and federal law enforcement to stop traffickers of these untraceable firearms that have quickly become the weapon of choice for criminals, and appreciate our partners’ efforts to hold these defendants accountable.”
According to U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus, the indictment alleges that between August 2021 and January 2022, in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Snader and Colon worked together to acquire firearm parts for the purpose of manufacturing and commercially dealing Privately Made Firearms (PMFs), often referred to as “ghost guns.”
“As in this case, ghost guns are un-serialized and difficult to trace by law enforcement. They look, feel, and function like factory-made firearms, and are just as lethal in the wrong hands,” said U.S. Attorney Gurganus. “We will do everything in our power to take illegal guns off the streets and prosecute those who are involved in their unlawful manufacture, trafficking and possession.”
It is alleged that Snader would manufacture the PMFs, which did not possess serial numbers, also known as ghost guns, making them untraceable by law enforcement after being assembled. Colon allegedly located potential firearm buyers and directed them to Snader who personally delivered the firearms in exchange for money. In total, Snader and Colon allegedly manufactured and sold, without the required federal license, at least 28 such firearms and obtained approximately $27,600 as a result of the offenses.
The case was unsealed following yesterday’s arrests of Snader and Colon. During the arrests, law enforcement seized additional ghost guns and PMF parts in both Lebanon County and Puerto Rico. Snader had his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and Colon is scheduled to have his initial appearance in the District of Puerto Rico.
In 2019, AG Shapiro issued a legal opinion categorizing ghost guns as firearms under PA law, and successfully petitioned the ATF and the United States Attorney General in 2021 to revise federal guidelines of unserialized, homemade guns.
“The unlawful sale of firearms is a primary focus of ATF and a critical threat to the safety of our citizens,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “The result of this investigation is a tribute to the longstanding collaboration with our local, state, and federal partners. I would like to thank the dedicated work of the investigators and prosecutors for dismantling this illegal firearm distribution operation.”
“The United States Postal Inspection Service is committed to investigating individuals who use the U.S. Mail to ship gun parts for the purpose of creating illegal firearms without serial numbers or “ghost guns,” said Inspector in Charge Damon E. Wood. We are committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners, the US Attorney’s Office, and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General to bring those who traffic in illegal firearms to justice.”
The matter was investigated by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott R. Ford is prosecuting the case.
Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court. A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
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