GREENSBORO –A Greensboro man pleaded guilty today to multiple firearms charges including one count of unlawfully dealing in firearms, one count of possession of a machinegun, and one count of trafficking in firearms, announced Sandra J. Hairston, United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.
According to court documents, in 2023, MAHMOUD MAZEN ABU-DAMES, 24, was trafficking privately made firearms (PMFs) and machinegun conversion devices (MCDs) online using Telegram, an internet based, online messaging application. ABU-DAMES advertised the sale of 3-D printed drop-in auto sears, which are devices designed and intended to convert semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic machineguns, as well as Glock conversion devices, commonly referred to as “switches,” which are used to convert Glock pistols into fully automatic machineguns. In August of 2023, an undercover agent (UC) began communicating with ABU-DAMES through Telegram about purchasing drop-in auto sears and Glock conversion devices. ABU-DAMES agreed to sell the UC four to five drop-in auto sears and one Glock conversion device. When ABU-DAMES learned the UC lived in the Greensboro area, he insisted on leaving the package on Palmetto Trail, a walking trail located off Old Battleground Road in Greensboro. ABU-DAMES also included four dosage units of Xanax and asked the UC to find a market for them.
After the first transaction, ABU-DAMES offered to sell the UC two AR-15 pistol variants, along with two drop-in auto sears to convert them to fully automatic machineguns. He also offered to sell the UC another Glock conversion device or “switch.” ABU-DAMES described both firearms as “ghost guns” and noted that they did not have serial numbers. When the UC met with ABU-DAMES to conduct the second transaction, the UC saw that one of the firearms still had a serial number on it. The UC informed ABU-DAMES that he planned to traffic the firearm to Mexico and ABU-DAMES requested that the UC obliterate the serial number before doing so to ensure it would not be traced back to him. During this transaction, the UC was accompanied by a confidential informant (CI) who was a convicted felon. When the UC asked ABU-DAMES if it was legal for the CI to possess a firearm, ABU-DAMES told the UC it was not legal for the CI to have a firearm as a convicted felon but suggested that it would be better for the CI to carry the PMF rather than the serialized firearm since it had no identifiable markings. A few weeks later, one final transaction was conducted. In that transaction ABU-DAMES demonstrated how to install a Glock conversion device.
On October 2, 2023, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives executed a search warrant at ABU-DAMES’ residence. Agents recovered three 3-D printers, numerous firearms, dozens of MCDs, and two unmarked plastic bags containing green and blue tablets, identical to the suspected Xanax that ABU-DAMES previously included during his transactions with the UC.
Sentencing is scheduled to take place on July 26, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, courtroom #4, before United States District Judge Loretta C. Biggs. At sentencing, ABU-DAMES faces a maximum sentence of fifteen years in prison, a period of supervised release of at least three years, fines, and other monetary penalties.
This case was prosecuted under the new criminal provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Congress enacted and the President signed in June 2022. The Act is the first federal statute specifically designed to target the unlawful trafficking and straw-purchasing of firearms.
The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Greensboro Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Jersey and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicole R. DuPré.