Crime - Sacto 911

Three men charged with trafficking AR-15-style firearms after ICE, ATF investigations

A Grass Valley man and two Sacramento men have been charged in federal indictments with trafficking guns similar to one used last month in a mass shooting at a Florida high school.

A nine-count indictment was returned Thursday against Michael Paul Grisham Smith, 44, of Grass Valley, charging him with unlawful dealing and manufacturing in firearms and unlawful possession of unregistered firearms, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office news release.

Smith allegedly contacted a firearms vendor on the dark web seeking to sell AR-15-style "ghost" guns that have no serial number. The vendor on the dark web turned out to be an undercover law enforcement agent working for Homeland Security Investigations.

Between Dec. 1 and Feb. 15, Smith manufactured and sold eight AR-15-style firearms without serial numbers to the undercover agent in exchange for payment in bitcoin, the news release said.

Another federal indictment returned Thursday charges 22-year-old Jesus Rodriguez and 23-year-old Raymond Sykes, both of Sacramento, with dealing and conspiring to sell firearms without a license. The indictment also charges Rodriguez with possessing an unregistered and unserialized short-barreled rifle, and distributing methamphetamine and cocaine, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office news release.

Rodriguez met separately with an undercover agent and two confidential sources on 12 occasions between Sept. 5 and Dec. 6. He sold them a variety of firearms, including a short-barreled rifle with a 90-round drum magazine, several AR-15-type rifles and handguns, the news release said. In all, Rodriguez is accused of selling the undercover agent 34 firearms, many of which lacked a serial number or other identifying markings.

Rodriguez also allegedly sold the agent cocaine and methamphetamine.

Sykes was present and participated in at least five of the firearms transactions, the news release said.

Smith's case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

The case involving Rodriguez and Sykes is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, with special assistance from the Sacramento Police Department and the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office's Gangs, Hate Crimes and Narcotics Unit.