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June 15, 2021McAllen, TX, United StatesCounter Proliferation Investigation Unit

South Texas man indicted for manufacturing 'ghost guns' destined for Mexican drug cartel

McALLEN, Texas — A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment charging a South Texas man for selling illegally manufactured and unregistered firearms suppressors destined for a Mexican drug cartel.

This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

On June 15, William Scotts Simms, 73, was indicted on three counts for aiding and abetting the attempt to illegally export a silencer, possession of 11 unregistered machine guns and possession of an unregistered silencer. Simms was arrested May 28 and was ordered into custody pending further criminal proceedings. Simms is expected to appear before a federal judge to face the additional charges contained in the indictment.

According to court documents, Simms allegedly planned to sell illegally manufactured and unregistered firearm suppressors. The alleged recipients were members of a Mexican drug cartel seeking to purchase weapons to be illegally exported into Mexico. The charges further allege Simms illegally manufactured 11 fully-automatic firearms to be sold for $10,000 each. Simms manufactured the machine guns without any identifying serial numbers. Such firearms are commonly known as “ghost guns” because it’s more difficult to trace their origins.

If convicted, Simms faces up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine for each charge.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Guerra Jr., Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of ICE responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 06/16/2021