An Auburn man accused of illegally manufacturing firearms was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Sacramento.
The grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging 44-year-old Craig Mason with unlawful dealing and manufacturing of firearms, and with manufacturing marijuana, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.
According to court documents, Mason and others sold the parts necessary to assemble a firearm. Mason operated a workshop on his property that he allegedly used to manufacture firearms by converting AR-15-style blanks into lower receivers.
A “blank” is a metal casting that is not considered a firearm by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is converted into a “lower receiver” by using a drill press or automated machine to create the precise shape and space necessary for the lower receiver to accept the parts of a firearm that allow the firing of a projectile. These parts – such as the hammer, bolt or firing mechanism – are the internal mechanical parts that combine with a trigger, firing pin and other parts to form a functioning firearm.
Once the blank has been converted to a lower receiver, it is considered a firearm by statute, even if there is no barrel, handle or trigger, and it is subject to regulation, authorities said.
On April 23, 2013, Mason allegedly manufactured two AR-15-style lower receivers for an ATF confidential informant. Although he was told that the confidential informant had been to prison and therefore was prohibited from possessing a firearm, Mason created the firearms and sold his services to the confidential informant, authorities said.
In executing a federal search warrant on Mason’s property, law enforcement officers found an active marijuana growing operation with 24 mature marijuana plants ranging in height from 2 to 7 feet. Inside the garage attached to Mason’s residence, officers reportedly found an active marijuana processing operation, including 15 drying lines containing 5 pounds of processed marijuana, and an ice chest concealing 3 1/2 pounds of processed marijuana.
The case resulted from an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the California attorney general’s Division of Law Enforcement; the California Highway Patrol; the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department; the Sacramento Police Department; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.