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United States v. Bryant

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 12, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
TREVON BRYANT, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE [ECF NO. 23]

          VICTORIA A. ROBERTS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case stems from the execution of a search warrant on ***** Asbury Park in Detroit, Michigan, as part of an investigation into the purchase and possession of unregistered firearms from December 2018-March 2019.

         Trevon Bryant (“Bryant”) is charged in a one-count indictment with receipt and possession of an unregistered firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 5861(d).

         Before the Court is Bryant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Based on an invalid search warrant. The Court DENIES Bryant's motion.

         II.BACKGROUND

         A. The Investigation, Affidavit for Search Warrant, and Search Warrant The affidavit for search warrant details the investigation.

         It began when the ATF Investigations Center initiated an international firearms investigation pertaining to the website CBTFORCE.COM in early November 2018. The investigation involved the alleged sale, illegal importation, and trafficking of Glock conversion firearms (classified as machine guns) to the general public without the necessary ATF authorization or background checks.

         The website advertised a “Glock Auto Switch” with a push button select-fire version of a Glock conversion firearm. This allows the shooter to choose between a semi-automatic and fully-automatic fire. The “contact us” page listed an email address (umoneyboxsale@hotmail.com) and ensured users that “information is kept 100% protected and private.” The website shipped products worldwide. Its domain name is registered to an address in Shenzhen, Guangdon, China.

         In November 2018, undercover ATF agents purchased two suspected Glock conversion firearms from the website. ATF paid for the weapons through Paypal to an account name JIGNWEIYIDA. The email address associated with this account is umoneyboxsale@hotmail.com. The weapons arrived in January 2019.

         In February 2019, the ATF Firearm Technology Criminal Branch (FTCB) processed four suspected Glock conversion weapons ordered from the website. The FTCB concluded that these weapons - with the conversion kits installed - were a combination of parts designed and intended to be solely and exclusively used for converting a weapon into a machine gun. Further, these weapons had no serial numbers and were not manufactured by Glock.

         The FTCB sought assistance from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to identify possible shipments of Glock conversion weapons that might have been shipped into the United States. CBP identified a common shipper.

         In March 2019, ATF obtained a search warrant for PayPal Holdings, Inc. The warrant sought records associated with the website's email address. The records obtained showed shipments to an estimated 2, 400 customers living in the United States.

         PayPal records indicated that Carnord Craig Gordon (“Gordon”) purchased a minimum of five Glock conversion weapons from the website and shipped the items to ***** Asbury Park using an email bearing Gordon's name.

         On separate occasions, Gordon made purchases through his email account. He used the same PayPal account, and shipped to the same Asbury Park address. Purchases on three separate dates where traced to Gordon: (1) December 19, 2018, one Glock conversion weapon; (2) January 25, 2019, two Glock conversion weapons, skull balaclava, and a camouflage mask; (3) March 4, 2019, two Glock conversion weapons.

         In May 2019, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) interviewed Gordon. He denied having any knowledge of the Glock conversion kits and claimed to not own a firearm. HSI offered Gordon the opportunity to return the purchased items. However, Gordon again denied having the firearms and PayPal account.

         ATF Special Agent Joseph Loy began surveilling the Asbury Park residence. Based upon his training and experience, Loy observed an individual - whom he believed to be Gordon - holding a handgun. Later that day, this individual left the residence with what appeared to be a long gun.

         In June 2019, Agent Loy observed Gordon and another person outside the Asbury Park residence. Although Loy could not identify the person, he later identified the man as Bryant through his Facebook (NoBighomie) and Instagram (nobighomie) accounts. Bryant freely left and entered the Asbury Park residence throughout the day. He posted photos showing an individual firing a fully automatic Glock in the backyard, a video of himself holding a firearm with what appeared to be a silencer attached, and a photo of Gordon and himself with Glock handguns with Glock conversion kits attached.

         Loy prepared the affidavit for search warrant; he believed a search of Asbury Park residence would yield illegal weapons. When Loy signed the affidavit, he had years of experience investigating various criminal cases; he summarized his knowledge of weapons operations, gained through experience and training, in the affidavit.

         A Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Michigan signed the underlying search warrant on June 5, 2019, finding that probable cause existed for the search of ***** Asbury Park based on the affidavit for search warrant.

         B. The Search and ...


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