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November 30, 2020Denver, CO, United StatesFirearms, Ammunition and Explosives

ICE HSI investigated Colorado man sentenced to prison for smuggling gun parts out of the US and possessing unregistered firearms

DENVER – A Colorado man was sentenced Nov. 30 to serve nearly 4 years in federal prison for smuggling gun parts out of the United States and possessing unregistered firearms.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) joined United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn in making the announcement.

Michael John Suppes, 47, of Weld County, Colorado, agreed to a substantial forfeiture of assets that totaled nearly $300,000 in addition to his prison sentence. He also agreed to forfeit 123 firearms as well as firearm parts and ammunition.

“Anyone who circumvents federal laws designed to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and terrorists deserves to be in prison,” said Steven Cagen, special agent in charge, HSI Denver. “HSI routinely works with the U.S. Attorney and law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute people like Suppes to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals based here and abroad.”

“Selling AR-15 and AK-47 semi-automatic rifles and parts to individuals in Mexico serves only to increase the violence there and the drug trafficking into the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “By taking this individual off the streets and putting him in a federal prison, we have stopped a significant pipeline of this deadly trade.”

According to the stipulated facts contained in his plea agreement, Suppes, who was not a licensed firearm dealer or manufacturer, willfully engaged in the business of manufacturing and dealing in firearms.  He exported firearm parts to buyers in other countries without obtaining an export license. Furthermore, 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 Jan. 25, 2015, and Nov. 5, 2018, he, through his business, shipped over 1,200 domestic and international packages. Suppes 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 Dec. 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.

This case was investigated by HSI with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service the Weld County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol. Suppes was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Treaster. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tonya Andrews handled the asset forfeiture portion of this prosecution. 

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. To report a crime, call 866-347-2423 (TTY for hearing impaired: 802-872-6196) or visit the ICE Tip Line.