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Press Release

Three Convicted For Unlawful Manufacturing Of Firearms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Two men and one woman, all of Corpus Christi, have entered guilty pleas to charges relating to their unlawful manufacture of AK-47 type firearms, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Michael Yarbrough, 22, Ashley Yarbrough aka Ashley Phillips, 24, and Stephen Atkinson, 29, were indicted in July 25, 2012, and arrested shortly thereafter. Set for trial next week, Michael and Ashley Yarbrough entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos just a short time ago. Atkinson previously entered a plea of guilty in September 2012. 

Michael Yarbrough and Atkinson were convicted of one count of unlawful manufacturing of firearms between Jan. 1, 2011, and July 2012. Michael  Yarbrough also pleaded guilty to one count of transferring firearms knowing that a felony was to be committed. Ashley Yarbrough entered a plea of guilty to one count of making a materially false statement to federal agents regarding the gun activity going on at her residence. 

This investigation began on Aug. 15, 2011, with the discovery of an AK-47 manufacturing business at a residence during the execution of an arrest warrant by United States Marshals in Corpus Christi. At that time, deputies encountered several individuals employed by Michael  Yarbrough at a Corpus Christi residence. After agents obtained a search warrant, several fully assembled AK-47 firearms were seized along with multiple handguns, gun parts and firearms in various stages of completion. Agents also discovered duffle bags full of fully assembled AK-47 firearms, ammunition magazines and bandoliers. None of the seized firearms had serial numbers and none of the individuals present has a Federal Firearms License. 

Agents have also uncovered a great deal of information regarding Michael Yarbrough and the people he employed to build AK-47 firearms for him. Agents discovered Michael Yarbrough sold fully assembled AK-47 firearms with no serial numbers in McAllen, at least 11 of which have been traced in Mexico by the unique tool markings on the firearms and other unique identifiers.

Michael Yarbrough faces up to 10 years imprisonment for transferring the firearm knowing that a felony was to be committed and five years on the manufacturing conviction. Atkinson and Ashley Yarbrough each face a potential penalty of up to five years imprisonment.  Sentencing is set for April 3, 2013. Michael and Ashley Yarbrough have both agreed the forfeiture of 74 firearms, which are also the subject of a civil lawsuit pending in the Southern District of Texas. 

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation leading to the criminal charges was conducted in Corpus Christi lead by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Corpus Christi Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office, the Nueces County Probation Department and the United States Marshals Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie K. Hampton.

Updated April 30, 2015