The owner of a Missouri gun store pleaded guilty in federal court to selling components to convert firearms into machine guns, which he marketed on his website as “cell phone holders.”
Charles Lee Weston, 37, of Kansas City, Mo., waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to a federal information that charges him with one count of illegally possessing a machinegun.
Weston, a federal firearms licensee, is the owner of Drum Magazines, LLC, at 4015 Sterling Avenue in Kansas City, Mo.
According to the plea agreement, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives identified a website operated by Weston that was selling multiple items believed to be machine guns. Those items included a drop in auto-sear, which is intended to convert an AR-15 type firearm into a fully automatic firearm. Because the conversion devices were each a part designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, each device is considered a machinegun under federal law.
The device, however, was being marketed on the website as a “cell phone holder.” An undercover agent purchased the set of two devices online for $149.99.
An undercover agent visited Drum Magazines on Aug. 4, 2021. The undercover agent asked Weston if he had any “cell phone holders.” Weston retrieved two swift link auto sears (capable of quickly converting semi-automatic AR-type rifles to fully automatic) from the back of the store and gave them to the undercover agent. The agent asked Weston if the devices would work in 300 BLK or just .223-caliber. Weston replied, “Every caliber. It’s more of a trigger setup. As long as your mil-spec trigger. But ya, it’ll work. You got me answering questions correctly.” Weston, acknowledging that he had described the true purpose of the device, laughed and said, “The proper answer would be ‘Whatever phone you got, sir.’” Weston again laughed and then stated, “You the first one that got me to answer the question like that. I’m tired.” Weston added, “I hate this (expletive) country and the (expletive) laws they have.” The undercover agent paid Weston $324.82 for the two devices and one extended magazine and left the business.
On Aug. 26, 2021, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Drum Magazines and Weston’s residence. Officers seized a box that contained Glock full auto switches and instructions and a piece of a suspected 3D printed auto sear.
Under federal statutes, Weston is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad K. Kavanaugh. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.