LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A Las Vegas resident made his initial appearance in federal court on September 4, 2020 for illegally possessing machine guns and unregistered firearm suppressors, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich of the District of Nevada, Special Agent in Charge Frank Burrola for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Special Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).
Justin Pham, 30, of Las Vegas, was charged with one count of illegal possession of a machine gun and two counts of possession of a firearm not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. A jury trial has been scheduled before U.S. District Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey on November 3, 2020.
According to the indictment and arguments made in court, on or about August 15, 2020, Pham possessed three Glock semi-automatic firearms that he had modified to fire as fully automatic weapons without manual reloading. In addition, Pham possessed five firearm silencers that were not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
As alleged, law enforcement became aware of Pham after an anonymous tipster reported that Pham had made threats that he was planning to commit a shooting. Pham also told the tipster that he had converted firearms into automatic weapons by using a 3-D printer. Law enforcement executed a search warrant on Pham’s home and vehicle. They located automatic weapons, which were Glock semi-automatic handguns that Pham converted into fully automatic firearms through Glock switches created from a 3-D printer. Additionally, law enforcement located the five suppressors, as well as numerous firearms and firearm parts, ammunition, and a 3-D printer.
Pham faces a statutory maximum sentence of: (a) ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the illegal possession of a machine gun charge; and (b) ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of possession of a firearm not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. In addition to imprisonment and monetary penalties, Pham also faces a period of supervised release and restitution.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is the product of a coordinated investigation by HSI, ATF, LVMPD, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Ihler is prosecuting the case.
The Clark County District Attorney’s Office has also filed charges on behalf of the State of Nevada against Pham.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the ATF when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.
For more information about Project Guardian, visit https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-william-p-barr-announces-launch-project-guardian-nationwide-strategic-plan.