Convicted felon, two others charged with trafficking ‘ghost guns’ in Marietta

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 11:04 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A convicted felon and two other men have been arraigned on federal charges for possession of machine guns, dealing firearms without a license, possession of unregistered firearms, and conspiracy, officials say.

Jelani Kazmende, 38, of Marietta, Wiley Martin, 42, of Acworth and Robert Louis Jeffords, Jr., 62, of Forest City, North Carolina, were arraigned before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Russell G. Vineyard and indicted by a federal grand jury on July 12.

According to U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan, Kazmende allegedly provided five privately manufactured “ghost guns” to Martin outside of a Marietta restaurant on June 2. Police officials say Martin is a multi-convicted felon who was previously serving a term of state probation.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, one of the men allegedly sold several weapons to undercover FBI agents at a Marietta restaurant in June.

Authorities say ghost guns are homemade firearms that can be assembled with kits or using a 3-D printer, they are hard to trace and made with no identifying markers.

According to the ATF, ghost guns become a problem when they’re sold and get into the wrong hands.

“They are getting in the wrong hands, crimes are being committed,” Nathan Banks, ATF public information officer, said. “It’s a trend that’s picking up, but it’s something we’re aware of and watching.”

Banks told CBS46 it’s a cheaper way of making a gun, and now they’re being moved around metro Atlanta a lot more.

“It started out west, now we’re seeing it growing in the Atlanta metro area with ghost guns becoming a problem,” he said.

An investigation uncovered that once the firearms were converted to fire automatically, Martin intended to sell the guns to the undercover FBI agents again. Before the transactions were made, law enforcement officers surrounded the restaurant and arrested all three defendants. They also recovered each of the guns and auto-sear devices.

U.S. Attorney Buchanan expressed the danger that the ghost guns allegedly sold by the three defendants have on the community. “Equipped with large capacity magazines, illegal machineguns like those allegedly transported, possessed, and sold by these defendants present an immediate danger to our community,” Buchanan said. “To protect the community, this office and its partners will identify, target, and prosecute to the fullest extent those who peddle these weapons unlawfully.”

“Illegal guns have no place in Georgia and the FBI will continue to work diligently with our partners to remove these dangerous criminals and weapons from our streets,” Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, Keri Farley said.