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Press Release

Vancouver, Washington man sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for illegally acquiring arsenal of guns, ammo and silencer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant in U.S without status, falsified documents and lied about citizenship; violated court orders related to history of domestic violence

Tacoma – A Brazilian National with multiple convictions for domestic violence assault, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 30 months in prison for federal felonies charging illegal possession of firearms, lying in connection with the purchase of firearms, falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, and unlawful possession of a firearm silencer, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Joao Ricardo DeBorba, 48, of Vancouver, Washington, has been detained at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac since he was convicted at a bench trial in February 2024. He was sentenced today by Chief Judge David G. Estudillo.

According to records filed in the case, DeBorba entered the United States on a tourist visa in 1999. DeBorba overstayed the visa and falsified documents to work in the U.S. and to acquire firearms. In April 2019, while purchasing firearms in Portland and Lebanon, Oregon, and Lacey, Washington, DeBorba entered false information on government forms stating he was a U.S. citizen. Shortly after the first three gun purchases, DeBorba was arrested for drunken driving and was found to have a Glock pistol.

Despite that arrest, DeBorba continued to purchase firearms: a rifle in Gresham, Oregon, and a revolver in Vancouver, Washington, again providing false information about his citizenship on required forms.

In November 2019, DeBorba was arrested for domestic violence assault. DeBorba was served with a “No Contact” order and was instructed to surrender all of his firearms. On November 16, 2019, DeBorba was arrested for violating the no contact order and 20 firearms were seized from his residence.

In January 2022, DeBorba was convicted in a second case of domestic violence assault. He was again informed that he could not possess firearms.

Guns in closet

When law enforcement served a search warrant at DeBorba’s residence, agents seized five firearms: three AR-15 style rifles with no serial numbers or manufacturers marks and two handguns – one without any serial number or manufacturers mark. The firearms, so-called “ghost guns,” appear to have been manufactured from parts ordered online.

In addition to the guns, DeBorba had a large amount of ammunition, a workbench with firearms parts and tools, firearms silencers, magazines, and various gun cases.

In asking the court for a five-year prison term, Assistant United States Attorney Max Shiner wrote to the court, “following his first reported domestic violence incident, DeBorba’s conduct only became more troubling. He increased his threatening conduct toward his wife. He threatened his roommates, who feared him because they knew he was accustomed to carrying a rifle with him. Despite having firearms seized from him, he replenished his cache of weapons and ammo, and began to obtain ghost guns as well as a firearm silencer, a highly restricted weapon under federal law.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Vancouver Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and the Social Security Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Max Shiner.

The case is US v. DeBorba CR22-5139-DGE


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated May 17, 2024

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