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Press Release

St. Albans man pleads guilty to Federal gun crimes

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

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A St. Albans man pleaded guilty today to two federal gun crimes, announced Acting United States Attorney Carol Casto. Christopher Ayash, 47, entered his guilty plea to possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and to possession of six firearms in furtherance of a federal drug trafficking crime.

Ayash admitted that he arranged for the illegal shipment of drugs, including oxycodone and coca leaves, a precursor used to manufacture cocaine, through the mail to West Virginia. On October 7, 2015, a federal search warrant was executed at Ayash’s St. Albans residence and law enforcement discovered a secret room hidden behind a fireplace. The secret room housed a laboratory set up by Ayash to manufacture cocaine and other controlled substances. Law enforcement seized over 60 firearms from the residence, including fully automatic weapons, silencers, and a handgun with an obliterated serial number. Ayash admitted that he possessed six of the firearms in furtherance of his drug trafficking crimes. As part of his plea, Ayash agreed to forfeit $300,000 to the United States. He also agreed to demolish a strip club he owned in St. Albans and to transfer the property to Kanawha County.

When he is sentenced on July 11, 2016, Ayash faces up to five years in prison for possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, and at least five years and up to life in prison for the other gun crime. 

The investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with the assistance of several other law enforcement agencies. Assistant United States Attorney Haley Bunn is in charge of the prosecution. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in the United States by networking existing local programs targeting gun crime. This case was also prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat illegal drugs in our communities, including the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs and heroin. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers and other drugs in communities across the Southern District.

Updated April 12, 2016

Drug Trafficking
Project Safe Neighborhoods