Two Austin Area Men and an Arizona Machine Gun Manufacturer Charged in Connection with Firearms Smuggling Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas
In Austin today, federal charges were filed against two Austin area residents and an Arizona machinegun manufacturer in connection with a firearms smuggling scheme that involved machine guns and assault weapons, announced United States Attorney John F. Bash; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Fred J. Milanowski, Houston Division; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden; and, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez, Houston Division.
A two–count Information charges 28–year-old Tyler Carlson of Austin, 69-year-old Michael Fox of Georgetown, TX, and 62–year-old Tracy Garwood of Scottsdale, AZ, with one count of conspiracy to violate multiple federal laws, including possessing and transferring unregistered machineguns and unlawfully exporting firearms to Mexico. Additionally, Carlson is charged with one substantive count of possession of an unregistered machinegun.
“We need to vigorously enforce the firearm laws that are on the books, and these charges are part of that mission,” stated United States Attorney John F. Bash.
According to the Information, Carlson worked with others to acquire and unlawfully smuggle 200 firearms, including .50 caliber rifles, and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition to Mexico.
Additionally, according to the Information, Carlson worked with Michael Fox, a former law enforcement officer and federal firearms licensee, to illegally acquire multiple M-134G Minigun machineguns. The M-134G is a six-barrel rotary machine gun that can fire between 2,000 and 6,000 rounds of ammunition per minute. Fox then contacted Garwood, owner of Garwood Industries in Scottsdale, who agreed to help with the construction and supply Fox with M-134G parts.
Garwood submitted false paperwork to the ATF claiming he had destroyed multiple M-134G rotor housings—a key component of the M-134G that must be serialized and registered with the ATF. Instead, according to the Information, Garwood unlawfully transferred possession of those rotor housings to Fox.
On February 8, 2017, authorities recovered three M134G rotor housings while executing a search warrant at Fox’s residence in Georgetown, Texas. Two of the rotor housings were ones that Garwood told ATF were destroyed.
The Information also states that prior to the search warrant, Fox successfully built multiple M-134G machineguns, unlawfully transferred them to Carlson, who in turn transferred them to an unnamed person. That person successfully smuggled M-134G machineguns to Mexico.
“Firearms trafficking is a priority for ATF because of the increased potential for those guns to be acquired by the criminal element,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski.
“By arresting weapons smugglers, law enforcement cuts the supply of firearms to the drug cartels, who fuel violence and pose a threat to citizens on both sides of the border,” said Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, HSI San Antonio.
“The Postal Inspection Service is committed to protecting the financial systems of the Postal Service by investigating money laundering activities involving the misuse of Postal Service products and money orders to facilitate criminal activity. We remain steadfast in our resolve to seek justice to the end and defend the nation’s mail service from illegal use. This goal is achieved through collaborative investigative efforts with other law enforcement agencies,” stated USPIS Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez
Upon conviction, Carlson faces up to 10 years on the substantive unlawful possession of a machinegun charge, and each defendant faces up to five years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge. No further court dates are scheduled at this time.
The ATF, HSI, USPIS are conducting this investigation. The U.S. Marshal Service assisted with the deportation of Carlson from Mexico. The Southern District of Texas and the District of Arizona provided assistance during this investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Galdo is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
An Information is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Updated April 12, 2018