Corpus Christi man sent to prison for conspiring to traffic machine guns across state lines
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 23-year-old Corpus Christi man has been sentenced for conspiracy to traffic firearms, specifically machine gun conversion devices (MCDs), in interstate commerce, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Rene Saldana pleaded guilty Sept. 14, 2023.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos has now handed Saldana a 36-month term of imprisonment to be immediately followed by two years of supervised release.
“MCDs, commonly known as “Glock switches,” present a unique and insidious threat to our communities – criminals can conceal something as small as a paperclip, install it in a legal gun, quickly converting the legal handgun into a machinegun, capable of firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition per minute,” said Hamdani. “This case involved an individual making MCDs in his home and then selling them to the highest bidder, without regard to where or how those MCDs would be used. From 2017 to 2021, the number of MCDs seized by law enforcement rose 570%. And with MCDs often ending up in the hands of dangerous criminals, gang members and cartel assassins, the Southern District’s prosecutors are doing everything they can to keep these types of weapons off the streets.”
“The illegal manufacturing of MCDs present a great danger to our communities,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Francisco Ortega of the Houston Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “Holding illegal firearm possessors accountable through federal prosecution is one of our highest priorities and ATF will continue to pursue those who endanger the public with the illegal possession or use of conversion devices.”
In May and June 2023, Saldana was discussing selling firearms and MCDs – devices that can be attached to existing legal firearms to turn them into machine guns. The attachments alter the firing mechanism of the guns so they can fire multiple shots automatically. These MCDs are considered machine guns under the law and are illegal to possess.
Saldana agreed to make and sell six MCDs for $1000 total. Saldana tested the MCDs to ensure they worked as intended and made the firearm function as an automatic weapon. He then arranged for a co-defendant to deliver the MCDs to a person he believed was smuggling them to another state. Saldana confirmed the sale via Snapchat and made plans for another, larger sale in the future.
Authorities recovered all six MCDs Saldana sold. At the time of his arrest, they also recovered a 3-D printer he was using to make the devices, as well as thirteen more MCDs in various stages of completion.
Saldana was permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.
ATF conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ashley Martin and John Marck prosecuted the case.