DENVER — A Colorado man pleaded guilty earlier this week to smuggling gun parts out of the United States and possessing unregistered firearms.
U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn, District of Colorado, announced the plea agreement and the case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, and the Colorado State Patrol.
Michael John Suppes, 46, of Weld County, Colorado, willfully engaged in the business of manufacturing and dealing in firearms and is not a licensed firearm dealer or manufacturer. He exported firearm parts to buyers in other countries without obtaining an export license and he possessed short-barreled rifles that were not registered under the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record as required by law.
Suppes operated a business, MJS Performance LLC, that sold firearm parts and motorcycle muffler parts. Between January 25, 2015, and November 5, 2018, he, through his business, shipped over 1,200 domestic and international packages. The defendant came to the attention of HSI after it learned of multiple packages that contained concealed gun parts destined for other countries, including Saudi Arabia, India, and Cambodia. The gun parts required an export license, which Suppes did not obtain.
Between December 2018 and April 2019, Suppes communicated with individuals who said they wanted to smuggle firearms into Mexico. In April 2019, he agreed to sell one of the individuals 30 AR-15 and 20 AK-47 rifles as well as magazines and ammunition. Suppes was arrested on his way to meet with the individual; he had the 50 rifles, magazines, and ammunition with him. Most of the firearms were short-barreled rifles.
Suppes also agreed to a substantial forfeiture of assets that totaled nearly $300,000. He also agreed to forfeit 123 firearms as well as firearm parts and ammunition.
He faces not more than 10 years in federal prison, followed by up to 3 years on supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Suppes was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Treaster. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tonya Andrews handled the asset forfeiture portion of this prosecution.
As the primary federal law enforcement agency responsible for investigating international smuggling operations and enforcing U.S. export laws, HSI is committed to combating illegal firearms, ammunition and explosives smuggling activities that fuel violence both domestically and abroad. HSI fulfills this commitment by relying on the agency’s extensive legal authorities and unique expertise in conducting illegal export and contraband smuggling investigations.
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; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.