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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

St. Albans man sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for gun crimes

Defendant admitted to having secret drug lab in his home; law enforcement seized over 60 firearms from his residence

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A St. Albans man was sentenced today to a total of 10 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for two gun crimes, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Christopher Ayash, 47, previously pleaded guilty 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 received five years on each charge, to be served consecutively, and was also ordered to pay a $25,000 fine. Additionally, as part of his plea agreement, 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.

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.

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. United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr., imposed the sentence.

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. 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 illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated August 31, 2016