Fort Worth was arrested for manufacturing machine gun converters. | So Good News
WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Federal agents arrested a Fort Worth man for using 3D printers to make illegal gun mods, officials said Friday.
Xavier Desean Watson of Fort Worth was arrested by law enforcement agents Thursday night outside his apartment. He appeared in court the next day.
According to prosecutors, Watson was involved in a ring that sold devices called “buttons” (in pistols) or “sears” (in semi-automatic rifles). Three other vendors, Ayoob Wali; 23 years old Jose Corral Santillan, 19, and Montavion Jones, 20, were all charged earlier this year.
The ATF began investigating the ring earlier this year after Fort Worth police noticed a rise in shootings involving conversion devices. Although machine guns are subject to strict regulations and are mostly illegal for civilian possession, the devices can fire as quickly as legal firearms are allowed to fire, or in some cases faster than military-issue weapons.
Several people arrested in connection with the shooting told police that Corral provided them with equipment. Corral and Jones lead the agents to Wali, who tells them that Watson is the printer.
In March 2022, an undercover agent worked with an informant to contact Jones via Instagram and purchase 10 conversion kits. Jones used a miniature he called his “little one” to send the buttons.
The following month, the agent purchased eight more buttons. The agent asked Corral if he would print the buttons himself, and he said he knew someone who did, but he didn’t. The undercover agent then overhears Corral calling someone “Whale,” later identified as Wali. Agents later said Corral found Wali inside his car and leaving with an inflated backpack.
Wali and Corral were arrested on May 3 and Jones was arrested on June 6.
Wali told investigators he found the keys in the car he bought, but eventually admitted he got them from a man named “Xavier,” who goes by the name Watson.
An undercover ATF agent then contacted Watson and arranged to purchase 33 conversion kits and a 3D-printed AR-15-style rifle. Watson bragged to the agent that he could produce about 400 buttons a day on two 3D printers installed in his apartment.
The agent visited Watson at his apartment twice; The first time was on October 18. Then, on October 26, they met twice. Both times, Watson showed the agent how to compile and install conversion tools. On the second visit, Watson showed the agent the 3D printers and told the agent that the devices had been delivered by hiding them inside a toy.
ATF officials said they seized more than 650 conversion devices during their investigation. Watson faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.
Corral pleaded guilty on June 22 to illegal possession of machine guns and was sentenced on October 7 to 57 months in prison. Jones pleaded guilty to the same charge on August 24 and will be sentenced on December 13. Wali pleaded guilty on November 16 and was sentenced on January 18. He will be sentenced in 2023.