June 27, 2022

USA: Michigan Man Charged With Buying Glock Switches Online Dark Net From Russia, Turning Pistols Into Machine Guns To Sell To Gang Members Connected To String Of Drive-By Shootings.


FOX 2 Detroit published June 20, 2022Man charged with buying Glock switches, turning pistols into machine guns. It's called a Glock Switch, and as the name would indicate, it switches a standard handgun into something else.

Fox2 News, Detroit local
written by Dave Spencer and David Komer online producer
Monday June 20, 2022

FOX 2 - The way a 9mm Glock is supposed to work is, pull the trigger and it fires a single round. But a case out of Oakland County is highlighting how a simple switch bought from Russia, can turn that handgun into a machine gun.

It's called a Glock Switch, and as the name would indicate, it switches a standard handgun into something else.

"As a switch, it would just snap on to the back of the gun and switch it from semi-automatic to full auto," said Randall Mullins, manager of Top Gun.

"It turns a weapon into a machine gun," said Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.

And the recent arrest of Immanuel Gates in Pontiac, highlights how these switches are arriving in Michigan.

"It’s something that criminals are aware of - the dark net and different places, where they buy different things," Bouchard said.

In the case of Gates, who is facing federal charges of unlawfully importing a firearm, it also shows how law enforcement can fight back - with federal jail time.

"We have an ongoing partnership with the FBI and Violent Crimes Task Force, which is based on the Oakland County campus, and then we have a partnership with the ATF to go after people who are using stolen guns or using parts illegally to alter the effectiveness or the rate of fire of guns," the sheriff said.

According to court documents, Gates, who is affiliated with a gang, would buy the switches from a Russian website, and have them shipped over in a package labeled "spare lawnmover parts."

The issue is a gun owner needs a federal firearm license to own and operate a gun conversion switch.

"This is illegal with no additional laws needed," said Mullins. "It’s already an illegal item to have on your gun."

Federal agents seized a package allegedly making its way to gates with 20 such devices inside.

"It has a standard back plate here and a sear on the inside of the gun, which stops the gun from firing more than one round at a time as the trigger is pulled," Mullins said.

Law enforcement says its far too easy for criminals to get their hands on these devices and far to dangerous once they are used to commit crimes.

"Let us know - you can do it anonymously, because in the end, they can hurt the community in which they land," Bouchard said.

In this case, law enforcement tracked Gates from July 2020 to Oct. 2021, saying he made numerous orders from that website, and he is currently awaiting trial for the federal firearm charges.

Gates, if convicted, may be looking at a 10-year federal prison charge.

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The Detroit News
written by Robert Snell
Sunday June 19, 2022

Detroit — Russian weaponry is helping fuel gun violence in Pontiac, where rappers and rival gang members are accused of waging a war that has led to more than 40 shootings since July and the killing of a 7-year-old girl on the drive home from school.

Court records, transcripts and interviews reveal an ongoing investigation stretching from Russia to Metro Detroit has led to state and federal charges against at least 40 people since October, including members and associates of the R Block and 4-Block gangs on the city’s east side. So far, 14 people arrested by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents and Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies are facing charges that include homicide or assault with intent to murder.

The cases represent the latest attempt by federal agents, local law enforcement and prosecutors to stem violence caused by street gangs in the region, including the Seven Mile Bloods in Detroit. Like the Seven Mile Bloods prosecution, which led to charges against more than 20 people and convictions for murder and racketeering conspiracy, investigators are building cases thanks to incriminating Instagram posts of alleged gangsters displaying illegal firearms.

The focus on street gangs emerged during a series of recent hearings in federal court that illustrated the scope of violence in Pontiac, and in filings that indicate devices purchased from Russian companies are being used to convert pistols into fully automatic, illegal machine guns. In trying to jail accused gang members and associates while awaiting trial, prosecutors described drive-by shootings, Pontiac streets littered with dozens of bullet casings and triggermen linked to multiple gunfights.

“The descriptions we’ve heard …quite frankly sound more like a war zone than a neighborhood,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Patti said while jailing 18-year-old Donovan Metoyer in March after hearing about a series of drive-by shootings.

“I think there are people today … in parts of the Ukraine who feel safer than the people in the houses we’ve heard about.”

The state and federal investigations come as Pontiac residents cope with a rise in crime in recent years. Pontiac had 1,364 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2020, an increase of 5.39% from 1,293.79 the previous year.

Authorities blame much of the recent surge on two street gangs that, combined, have approximately 80 members and associates.

R Block grew out of the area around Russell Street east of the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Auburn Avenue. The territory eventually expanded as members engaged primarily in armed robberies, fraud, drugs and shootings, according to ATF investigators.

The gang is not affiliated with specific colors but members are known for flashing a hand sign of four fingers aimed toward the ground. The sign is meant to disparage the 4-Block gang.

The 4-Block gang originated on four streets west of the MLK Jr. Boulevard and Auburn Avenue intersection. Those streets are: South Marshall Street, South Anderson Avenue and South Edith and Going streets.

Older members sell drugs while younger gang members serve, primarily, as shooters, according to the ATF. 4-Block members disparage R Block members by flashing a hand sign of five fingers aimed at the ground.

Gang-related violence drew increased attention March 18 when 7-year-old Ariah Jackson was killed after being picked up from school. She was in a car with her mother, who was grazed by a bullet, and three other children, ages 6, 7 and 11, who were uninjured.

A passenger dressed in black hung out the window of a late model orange Chevrolet Blazer and fired eight shots at the family's vehicle, Ariah's mother told investigators.

Investigators believe members of 4-Block were involved and suspected a rival was inside the vehicle, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Roth said during a recent court hearing.

“When they peppered the car with bullets,” Roth said, “they shot her right through the head.”

Several accused members of 4-Block have been charged with crimes related to the shooting. The alleged gunman, 19-year-old Justin Jayshon Rouser, is jailed while awaiting trial on multiple charges, including first-degree murder.

Prosecutors also described a series of near-misses and repeated gun violence throughout Pontiac in the last year.

Ten 10 mm shell casings littered the intersection of Cherry Hill Drive and Firelite Lane in Pontiac on June 30. The intersection is near a cluster of one-story apartment buildings at the North Hill Farms complex, or "The Farm," as it's called.

The shell casings were residue from a gun battle that damaged one home and a car. The shooting was a minor incident in a broader pattern of violence that includes deputies finding the bullet-riddled body of a 45-year-old homicide victim three blocks away earlier this month.

In the June 2021 incident, two witnesses told investigators they saw alleged R Block gang member Immanuel Gates firing a Glock pistol. Witnesses told ATF investigators the firearm was outfitted with an after-market, illegal switch that converted the firearm into a fully automatic machine gun, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Moran said during a recent court hearing.

Investigators had focused on the 20-year-old Gates since at least January 2021 in connection with a gun battle that hospitalized two people and was captured on surveillance video.

Investigators seized his cellphone and learned Gates was buying Glock switches from a Russian website, according to a criminal complaint.

From July 2020 to September 2021, Gates bought 32 Glock switches from a website called Silencer Sales in Russia, an ATF special agent wrote in the complaint.

Gates used NBA player names as aliases — including "Magic Johnson" — to buy the devices, investigators said. ATF agents traced the purchases to Gates through cellphone numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses during a shopping spree so lucrative that his contacts in Russia eventually gave him discounts.

The search showed Gates paid $100 for a Glock switch from Silencer Sales in early July 2020. The device was supposed to be shipped by "Egor Gorbanenko" to Gates's home on Starlite Lane in The Farm, according to the complaint.

In one message reviewed by investigators, Gates warns an acquaintance about being caught with a Glock converted into a fully automatic machine gun.

Gates said he would only install the Glock switches when necessary to minimize the risk of being caught and charged with a federal crime, according to the complaint.

"I'm only sliding with my s--- when it's action," Gates texted.

Federal agents and prosecutors have made concerted efforts to seize smuggled Glock switches in major cities in recent years, including in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Chicago. Last year, ATF agents seized 1,500 weapons modified with Glock switches, up from 300 seizures the prior year, according to federal data obtained by Vice News.

Switches convert a semiautomatic pistol into a machine gun but are illegal unless the devices are possessed by someone with a federal firearms license. Gates does not have such a license.

“Our partnerships with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in Pontiac are in keeping with our district-wide priority to target the primary drivers of violent crime: the most violent individuals and groups, and those that supply them with guns," U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said in a statement to The Detroit News.

Investigators found an email from September about the purchase of 20 Glock switches that were to be shipped to a Waterford address.

The Russian seller asked Gates to pay with Bitcoin, according to a text reviewed by agents.

“Can I just pay Western Union bro," Gates wrote, "I spend so much money with y’all."

Gates got another discount and paid $1,220 to Natalia Skichko of Russia, according to the ATF.

That was the last break Gates would catch.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents intercepted the $1,220 package in September. The label read "spare lawnmower parts."

Investigators also learned he was involved in buying firearms with a stolen credit card in November 2020, according to the prosecutor.

That month, Gates purchased four firearms from a California company and had the weapons shipped to Metro Detroit, Moran said.

Two days after the firearms were picked up, shots were fired as drivers in a Dodge Challenger and a silver car chased each other through Pontiac near Columbia Avenue and Barkell Street.

Investigators collected shell casings that matched one of the 9 mm Glock handguns purchased by Gates, the prosecutor said.

Gates, who raps under the name 72 Manny, was arrested after the January 2021 shooting that wounded two men.

Investigators analyzed the 10 mm shell casings found at the crime scene. One matched a 10 mm handgun Gates bought from the California dealer, Moran said.

While free on bond in the January 2021 shooting, federal prosecutors charged Gates with a 10-year firearm felony in May.

Gates’s lawyer, Vincent Toussaint, noted prosecutors did not produce evidence that the switches were ever installed on firearms or that Gates accepted delivery of the Russian devices.

“We don’t know who accepted these deliveries,” the lawyer said during a recent bond hearing in federal court. “We don’t know who else resided at the addresses. There is nothing on record that Mr. Gates used any websites or anything to try to assemble these weapons.”

Gates has distanced himself from Pontiac since last fall, Toussaint said. He moved out of the city and has stopped associating with gang members, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan J.C. Grey ordered Gates held without bond while awaiting trial.

Others also have been linked to serial shootings.

In November 2021, investigators stopped a car and questioned several passengers, including Metoyer, who ATF investigators say is affiliated with a gang connected to 4-Block, and his older brother, 22-year-old Deonta Metoyer, who was arrested.

During the stop, investigators found weapons hidden behind the glove box, including a Glock pistol and a tactical rifle in the backseat with a drum magazine and an armor-piercing round in the chamber. Analysis linked the pistol to a shooting two months earlier targeting R Block members, Roth said.

It was the first in a series of shootings, violence and gun-related incidents from September-November 2021 that prosecutors say has ties to Donovan Metoyer. His home was targeted in two gunfights — including one in November that left him and his mother with wounds from bullets fired from a weapon later recovered at the home of an R Block member.

The shootings were captured by the home's doorbell camera. But the footage was deleted by the time investigators arrived, Roth said.

"It's because he wants street justice," Roth said.

In March, four months after the shooting, a photo appeared on Donovan Metoyer's Instagram feed showing him near the apartment of an alleged R Block member who was suspected of shooting at him, according to prosecutors. In the photo, Donovan Metoyer posed with a Glock pistol in his waistband and flashed a gang sign.

"For him to go to a rival gang member's front step with guns, flashing gang signs, is only designed to further the hostilities and instigate more violence," Roth said. "After his mom was shot. After he's been shot. After his house has been shot up three times, he's still going there."

Donovan Metoyer is a victim of gun violence and prosecutors have not produced evidence proving he was involved in gunfire, his lawyer Michael McCarthy said during a bond hearing.

The magistrate refused to release Donovan Metoyer, who is facing a gun charge that carries up to a 10-year federal prison sentence and $250,000 fine.

"Quite frankly, I think If I put you on a tether, at some point that tether is going to be on a dead body," Patti said.

written by Derick Hutchinson, Lead Digital Editor
November 17, 2021

PONTIAC, Michigan – Seven men have been arrested in connection with a string of drive-by shootings in Pontiac, police said.

Officials with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said a team of 15 detectives spent eight hours on the case Saturday, arresting seven men and likely preventing additional drive-by shootings.

“These extremely dangerous individuals needed to be taken off the street and held accountable,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. “Attempting to apprehend one of the suspects shows how violent and dangerous they are. He rammed a police car while trying to flee and was in illegal possession of a loaded firearm. Most of them have prior illegal gun possession charges and yet they were still out on the street.”

Drive-by shootings

All seven men who were arrested this weekend are believed to be connected to multiple drive-by shootings in Pontiac, according to officials.

Three of the men were linked to a Jan. 3 incident in a public parking lot near Wayne and Lawrence streets.

Three men were involved in another January shooting that took place a few blocks away from 50th District Court in Downtown Pontiac, according to police. During that incident, four men tried to ambush residents who were in a car, firing repeatedly while driving behind the Waterman Building on Saginaw Street, officials said.

“These are exactly the individuals who are causing large amounts of gun violence in communities across America,” Bouchard said. “Until it is re-established that possession and use of guns illegally will carry a stiff penalty, this violence will continue to grow.”

About four hours after that shooting, detectives located a gray minivan at a gas station. Four men whose clothing matched the descriptions from the shooting were inside, but they denied involvement and no charges were authorized at that time, police said.

On Saturday, detectives said they learned new information that linked Anthony Curry, Marcus Clark, Omario Pate and Immanuel Gates to the shooting.

Curry, 18, Clark, 20, and Pate, 18, were taken into custody Saturday from various locations around Pontiac, but detectives are still searching for Gates, 19.

Police said Curry tried to evade capture by driving away and ramming a police vehicle. A .40-caliber handgun was found in his vehicle, according to authorities.

Curry, Clark and Pate are each charged in 12-count felony warrants with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, carrying a concealed weapon, assault with intent to murder and possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony.

Curry and Clark have prior convictions for carrying a concealed weapon, officials said. Pate was on bond from Wayne County Circuit Court on the concealed weapons charge.

The trio were arraigned Wednesday (Nov. 17) at 50th District Court. Curry and Clark are being held at the Oakland County Jail without bond. Pate is being held on $1 million bond.

A probable cause conference is set for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 30, and a preliminary examination is scheduled for Dec. 7.

A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of Gates. He is considered armed and dangerous, police said. Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP to remain anonymous.

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