East Hartford Residents Charged with Fabricating and Selling Numerous Ghost Guns
Leonard C Boyle, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that JOHN LEE ORTIZ, 28, and AUDLEY REEVES, 30, both of East Hartford, have been charged with federal firearm offenses related to the illegal fabrication and sale of firearms.
As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, in late 2021, the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force learned that Ortiz and others were selling “ghost guns,” which are homemade firearms that do not contain serial numbers or other identifying markings that prevent them from being traced to the owner, seller or manufacturer of the firearm. In December 2021, investigators made controlled purchases of seven handguns, a Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle, and numerous rounds of ammunition from Ortiz. Most of the handguns had no serial numbers and had plastic lower receivers that appeared to be made with a 3D printer. Reeves was identified during the investigation as the fabricator of the ghost guns.
Ortiz and Reeves were arrested on January 5, 2022. On that date, a court-authorized search of an apartment on Church Street in East Hartford revealed six fully assembled firearms, approximately 12 partially assembled firearms, three high-capacity magazines, various firearm parts, and tools used to construct firearms. Reeves was present in the apartment at the time of the search, and a 3D printer in the apartment was in the process of printing a stock of an AR-15 style rifle.
Ortiz and Reeves are each charged by criminal complaint with engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. Ortiz is also charged with selling firearms to a prohibited person, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
Ortiz and Reeves are currently detained.
U.S. Attorney Boyle stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force includes members of the Hartford Police Department, East Hartford Police Department, New Britain Police Department, West Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian P. Leaming.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.