A Rhode Island man has been charged with conspiring to traffic firearms and making false statements after he allegedly operated a “ghost gun home factory” and sold the completed firearms in the Dominican Republic.
Police arrested Robert Alcantara, 34, as he was driving through the Bronx from a Pennsylvania gun show to his home in Rhode Island. Authorities seized parts for 45 “ghost guns” from his car, and a subsequent investigation revealed he had manufactured and sold more than 100 firearms, most of them handguns, according to the New York Times.
“Untraceable ‘ghost guns’ pose a serious threat to public safety,” said Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “As alleged, the defendant agreed with others to buy the parts for these firearms, put them together at his home, and then unlawfully sold or attempted to sell over 100 of them. Thanks to our law enforcement partners, the defendant has been arrested, and his deadly ghost gun business has been shut down.”
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Rhode Island passed a law in 2020 that outlaws possessing, making, or selling homemade firearms, but federal law still allows it. However, federal law does not allow a person to be “in the business” of manufacturing or selling firearms without a license.
Alcantara told federal investigators he did not plan to sell the firearms he had been making. But a search of Alcantara’s phone allegedly revealed that he offered to have his mother transport firearms to the Dominica Republic.
Investigators also took the number of “ghost gun” kits Alcantara purchased as evidence for his intent to sell. The complaint mentions he had been making “substantial numbers” of firearms and details conversations between Alcantara and a retailer of unfinished firearms about his intent to purchase “large numbers” of kits.
Authorities also found photos on his phone of a sanding belt, a hydraulic drill press, and other tools used in assembling the guns, according to the Times.
So-called “ghost guns” have landed in the crosshairs of the anti-gun lobby in recent years. It has always been legal in the United States to manufacture guns at home for personal use, but opponents of the practice claim that modern “ghost gun” kits make the process too easy.
That’s the basis for a new rule proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives that would ban “ghost guns” and create a new standard for what counts as a “frame or receiver.” Rather than use the state of manufacture, the new standard would consider the time, skill, and tools needed to turn raw material into frames or receivers.
This latest high-profile arrest appears to be in concert with that larger campaign.