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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Carmichael Man Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Possessing Biological Toxin and Selling Machine Guns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — James Christopher Malcolm, 31, of Carmichael, was sentenced today to five years in prison for possessing abrin, a biological toxin; unlawful dealing in firearms; and possession and transfer of a machine gun, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

United States District Judge Troy L. Nunley also ordered Malcolm to pay $30,918 in restitution.

According to court documents, Malcolm met with a confidential informant to discuss a plan to sell fully automatic rifles. At the meeting, Malcolm told the informant that distributing firearms was only a side business, and his main business was distributing explosives and poison. Later, Malcolm sold four short-barrel AR-15-style machine guns, 1.5 pounds of improvised explosive material, three blasting caps, and a firearm silencer to undercover agents posing as arms dealers for drug trafficking organizations. Additionally, Malcolm told undercover law enforcement agents that he could manufacture parts to convert Glock pistols into fully automatic machine guns. Malcolm actually demonstrated the process of converting pistols to machine guns and over the course of various meetings, sold the agents parts to convert 10 pistols.

In addition to face-to-face sales, Malcolm also utilized the online moniker “Dark_Mart.” Using the Dark_Mart moniker, Malcolm opened a seller’s account on Black Market Reloaded (BMR), an online marketplace accessed via TOR network. Malcolm’s Dark_Mart page on BMR provided a menu of items for sale, including Glock auto-sears, explosives, ricin, and abrin.

Abrin is a natural poison found in the seed of the rosary pea, a tropical plant. Similar to ricin, abrin is a protein inhibitor that prevents cells from making the proteins they need to survive. A dose as small as several micrograms may be fatal. The cause of death is typically internal bleeding or organ failure within three days. Abrin can be injected, inhaled, or swallowed. Abrin is classified as a “Select Agent and Toxin” by the United States Department of Health and Human Services because of the potential severe threat to public health and safety.

On BMR, Malcolm was contacted by two separate individuals who desired to purchase abrin, one in New York and one in San Francisco. Malcolm agreed to ship abrin to the two individuals in exchange for payment in bitcoin. On December 5, 2013, Malcolm shipped two packages from Vacaville, one to New York and one to San Francisco. Both shipments contained small glass vials filled with a rudimentary form of abrin concealed within flashlights.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Justin Lee prosecuted the case.

National Security
Updated March 10, 2016