Two Queens Men Charged After Buying Three Illegally Defaced Firearms and Two Assault Rifles
One Defendant Fantasized About “Martyring” Himself in a Mass Shooting
A criminal complaint was filed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Daniel Jou and Joseph Miner with receiving and possessing multiple firearms with obliterated serial numbers. The defendants were arrested Tuesday night and made their initial appearances via teleconference this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy. The defendants were ordered detained pending trial.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrests and charges.
“As alleged, after Joseph Miner praised extremist violence and expressed racist and anti-Semitic hatred on the internet, he and his co-defendant bought a collection of illegal firearms capable of inflicting mass bloodshed,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “What the defendants did not know was that they were buying the guns from an undercover federal agent who had been investigating their plan to buy weapons that would be impossible to trace. This Office, together with our law enforcement partners, will continue to exercise extreme vigilance to protect our communities by preventing individuals from purchasing illegal weapons.”
“As alleged, Joseph Miner and Daniel Jou sought to acquire illegal firearms with serial numbers that were known to have been removed. The social media posts from one of the defendants expressing support of a racial civil or holy war make the behavior alleged here even more alarming. The actions of the subjects presented a clear danger to the community. The FBI is focused on preventing violent acts before they occur, and I would like to thank the dedicated members of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force who moved swiftly in addressing the threat posed by these individuals,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
“Seeking to buy illegal weapons after one defendant has at times advocated for racially motivated violence constitutes a very real threat to the citizens of New York,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea. “I commend the work of the agents and detectives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force on this investigation. The case demonstrates again that we will seek out those advocating violent extremism no matter what the brand or twisted ideology.”
As alleged in public filings, law enforcement authorities began investigating Miner in late 2019 when he posted on social media accounts his interest in obtaining assault weapons and other firearms for a racial civil war or racial holy war. For example, Miner posted on his Instagram account the following content in December 2019 and January 2020:
• A photograph of himself giving a Nazi salute and writing, “God I hate women jews and n-----rs.” In another post, Miner is depicted giving a Nazi salute as he displays a large knife and adds, “overthrowing [Jews] is our Christian duty;”
• In response to a bloody crime scene photograph from the December 2019 machete attack at a synagogue in Monsey, New York, Miner commented, “ngl [not gonna lie] this is pretty f-----g exciting;”
• A photograph of a Planned Parenthood location being blown up by the comic book character The Joker.
• On or about January 22, 2020, Miner posted a photograph of the entrance to a Jewish community center in Queens.
Although Miner at times disavowed interest in conducting an attack himself, he also posted Instagram messages displaying suicidal ideations and fantasizes about “martyring” himself and “go[ing] out in a blaze of glory” in a mass shooting.
In April 2020, Miner initiated contact with an undercover law enforcement agent posing as a firearms dealer and reviewed with the agent a list of handguns and a shotgun that he wanted to purchase for himself and Jou. Thereafter, Miner and Jou purchased numerous firearms from the undercover agent knowing that the serial numbers that would allow the weapons to be traced had been removed. On April 26, 2020, the defendants met the undercover agent at a hotel in Queens and indicated they were willing to spend thousands of dollars to purchase firearms and ammunition, including AR-15 assault rifles
In the days following the April 26, 2020 meeting, the defendants used an encrypted messaging service to request additional firearms from the undercover agent. For example, Jou offered to spend up to $5,000 to purchase eight firearms, including a Colt M4 assault style rifle and multiple handguns. Similarly, Minor offered $2,000 to purchase two handguns, a shotgun and a “Ghost AR” – an assault-style firearm made from different gun parts and without serial numbers or other identifying markings – and a “suppressor,” or silencer.
On the evening of May 12, 2020, Jou and Miner met the undercover agent at a hotel in Queens. During the meeting, the undercover agent showed Jou and Miner several firearms, many with the serial numbers obliterated. Jou purchased a Glock 19 handgun with an obliterated serial number and a fully automatic assault rifle with a silencer attachment and high capacity magazine. Jou also expressed his interest in buying additional firearms from the undercover agent at a later date. Miner purchased a handgun and shotgun, both with obliterated serial numbers, and an AR-15 style assault rifle “ghost” gun with a silencer attachment and high capacity magazine. Miner also bought more than 200 rounds of ammunition, which he planned to share with Jou.
The charge in the complaint is an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Artie McConnell and Josh Hafetz are in charge of the prosecution.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-MJ-368