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Press Release

Johnston Man Arrested, Federal Firearm Charges Filed in Seizure of Firearm Silencers and Device to Convert an AR-15 to an Automatic Weapon

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE – Federal charges have been filed against a Johnston man following the seizure of two firearm silencers, one of which was attached to a rifle, and a “lightning link” auto sear (a device used to turn a semi-automatic rifle into an automatic weapon), announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

Alessio Dandrea, 27,  has been charged by way of a federal criminal complaint with possession of an unregistered firearm silencer and unlicensed importation/transportation of a machine gun from foreign commerce. 

According to charging documents, on June 14, 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a parcel shipped from China addressed to Dandrea that, upon inspection, was found to contain an AR-15 “lightning link” auto sear.  The seized lightning is classified as a machine gun by the ATF and is designed to modify the semi-automatic function/capability of an AR-15, rendering it capable of firing as an automatic weapon.  The possession or transfer of an unregistered drop-in auto sear is prohibited by the National Firearms Act.

A court-authorized search of Dandrea’s residence on Thursday by agents and officers from Homeland Security Investigations, ATF, and the Johnston Police Department resulted in the seizure of six firearms and two firearm silencers, one of which was attached to a rifle.  An investigation into Dandrea revealed that the two silencers were not registered to him, rendering their possession illegal under federal law.  

Dandrea is scheduled to make an initial appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan today at 2:00 pm.

A federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney G. Michael Seaman.

The matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, U.S Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Johnston, Warwick, Providence, Central Falls, and Pawtucket Police Departments.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.



Jim Martin

(401) 709-5357

Updated July 7, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 23-77