A federal judge has sentenced two Jonesboro men to federal prison after the Clayton County Police Department and federal agents busted their illegal weapons sales operation in March 2022.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Ryan K. Buchanan announced the convictions Friday in a press release.

Anthony Maseda, 21, and Erik Arreola-Torres, 20, were convicted of selling fully-automatic firearms on Maseda’s Instagram page. The pair would install “switches” on semiautomatic weapons, turning those legal weapons into illegal machine guns, then sell them from a local residence. They also sold regular semiautomatic firearms and switches.

A semiautomatic weapon fires one round each time the trigger is pulled. A fully automatic weapon fires continuously when the trigger is pulled. Switches are themselves classified as machine guns, which means no one can own or possess them without a machine gun license.

It’s also illegal to repetitively sell firearms as a business, as opposed to selling one or two of your personal firearms to someone else, without a license:

Federal agents got a warrant and an undercover agent bought all three items from the men.

According to the press release, “On the morning of March 3, 2022, special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Clayton County Police Department, executed the search warrant at the Jonesboro house. As law enforcement stood outside the home, Arreola-Torres picked up a machinegun and fired towards agents and officers fro inside the residence, unloading dozens of rounds in the investigators’ direction. Fortunately, no one was hit or injured.

“After securing the scene and taking Maseda and Arreola-Torres into custody, agents located within the residence six fully automatic machineguns, four additional auto sears, five additional firearms, numerous firearm parts and magazines, ammunition, bullet proof body armor, and distribution quantities of marijuana and digital scales. One of the firearms had an obliterated serial number.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Annalise K. Peters prosecuted the case.

Maseda pleaded guilty to possession of a machinegun on October 13, 2022 and was sentenced to nine years in prison and three years of supervised release. As of press time, he was being held at USP Atlanta.

Arreola-Torres pleaded guilty to possession of a machinegun and conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing firearms without a license on October 17, 2022. He was sentenced to ten years and one month in prison, followed by three years’ supervised release.

“This investigation re-affirms the importance of our agency’s collaboration with our federal partners,” CCPD Chief Kevin Roberts said. “The arrests resulting from this joint investigation with the ATF surely saved lives in Clayton County and likely in the metropolitan region. The Clayton County Police Department will continue to partner with our Federal and State law enforcement agencies to reduce violent crimes in our community.”

Buchanan said, “Maseda and Arreola-Torres jeopardized the lives of multiple law enforcement officers and community residents during an investigation by law enforcement officers of the defendants’ machinegun trafficking scheme. This office and its law enforcement partners will identify, target, and prosecute those individuals who threaten the safety of our communities by creating and selling automatic firearms. We commend the work of our dedicated agency partners in this case and are grateful no one was injured during this violent incident.”

Assistant Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Atlanta Field Division Alisha Jones added, “Because of the combined efforts of ATF and its law enforcement partners, criminal elements have been surgically removed from the community of Clayton County and placed where they belong: into the criminal justice system to be processed and prosecuted for illegal gun activity.”

The operation was part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is a partnership with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and local communities aimed at fighting violent crime. Communities in Clayton County, along with English Avenue in Atlanta, Henry County, and Troup County, are among those where PSN has focused its efforts.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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