Skip to main content
Press Release

Vancouver, Washington, resident charged with multiple counts of illegal firearms possession – some firearms are ‘ghost guns’

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Brazilian National, with prior convictions for domestic violence assault, maintained arsenal in violation of court order

Tacoma – A Brazilian National with multiple convictions for domestic violence assault, was arrested Friday on eight counts for illegal possession of firearms, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.  Joao Ricardo DeBorba, 46, of Vancouver, Washington, remains detained at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac pending further court proceedings.

According to the criminal complaint, DeBorba entered the United States on a tourist visa in 1999.  DeBorba overstayed the visa and allegedly 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.

Last week, law enforcement served a search warrant at DeBorba’s residence and seized 5 firearms: 3 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.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Illegal firearms possession is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The case is being 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.

Guns seized
FBI photo
Guns seized



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

Updated May 9, 2022

Firearms Offenses