Did you read our post a few weeks ago about cheap Chinese knock-off gear being sold through a site called wish.com? The post centered on an arrest that was made in upstate New York after a man bought a kit to convert GLOCK pistols to run in full auto. He’d also bought silencer components from the site.
That case was clearly not an isolated incident. According to a CNN report . . .
Federal authorities suspect that thousands of machine gun conversion devices have been illegally imported into the United States from China, in some cases ending up in the hands of convicted felons, CNN has learned.
Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are actively working to locate the devices and retrieve them.
How many of the illegal conversion kits have made it into the country? A lot.
ATF and customs officials in Chicago identified more than 2,900 packages containing conversion devices “that are believed to have been shipped into the United States” under false customs declarations, according to an affidavit filed in federal court in Rhode Island. The devices render semi-automatic Glock pistols into fully automatic weapons and are considered a machine gun in and of themselves under federal law. While the devices are specifically designed to modify Glock pistols, Engelbert, the ATF spokesman, stressed that they are not manufactured by Glock.
The 2,900 in the CNN report are only the kits that the ATF is aware of (or is willing to talk about). And they’re only from the one web site. It seems a safe bet that a lot more have made it in from this and other sites.
(Former ATF supervisor Jill) Snyder, who most recently ran the San Francisco Division of the ATF before retiring from the agency last fall, said she previously worked on cases involving similar devices being illegally exported from the Philippines.
She said the devices don’t have serial numbers on them and are impossible to track if not recovered in the possession of the original purchaser. She added that, just because ATF was aware of one company’s sales, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t others going undetected.
“That sounds like a significant number,” she said of the ongoing investigation into the Chinese website. “How many other thousands are there that we don’t know about?”
This, of course, isn’t the first time this has happened. The ATF’s website documents a case from 2002 in which someone from Argentina sold similar switches to convert semi-automatic GLOCK pistols to fully automatic. And there’s no telling how many people may be doing the work themselves without the help of foreign sellers.