Federal investigators say they have seen an explosion in the production of handguns in North Texas over the past six months, reports CBS Dallas’ Brian New.
When placed on the back of a gun, the small, simple devices can turn a gun into a mini-submachine gun.
Instead of firing only one bullet when the trigger is pressed, the illegal devices allow multiple shots to be fired by holding down the trigger. As many as 30 shots can be fired in two seconds.
“These things are fired faster than what the military carries,” said Jeffrey Boshek, Special Agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives (ATF) Dallas Field Division. “That’s how fast these contacts make these handguns. It’s a real problem.”
In May 2020, a traffic jam in Arlington, Texas led to one of the first cases in a recent series of busts in the area of alleged possession of an illegal contact.
Karo Khudanyan, 23, was pulled over at high speed when the smell of marijuana prompted an officer to discover five large bags of marijuana along with a small black box attached to a gun in Khudanyan’s vehicle, according to police records.
The police body camera video obtained by the CBS Dallas I-Team shows that the first officers at the scene did not know what the device attached to the gun was. It was later determined that it was a pistol breaker.
Khudanyan pleaded guilty in a federal court to possession of an unregistered firearm and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
There have been other cases.
In December, Ramon Navarro of Dallas was sentenced to 10 years in prison for possession of an unregistered firearm after attempting to sell three switches to an undercover ATF agent.
In March, Martin Avina, also from Dallas, was sentenced to four years in prison for selling illegal switches. According to court records, Avina and his accomplice sold 20 switches to an undercover ATF agent. The men advertised on Snapchat.
In recent months, local ATF agents have confiscated contacts almost every week – and recent busts revealed that the problem may become harder to deal with.
Switches are no longer only manufactured abroad and sold online. Many are now being made locally with cheap 3D printers in less than 20 minutes. The locally made switches are sold on social media apps including Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram.
“This has been a big shift,” Boshek said. “These things come from Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth, all over here in North Texas.”
He said that in the four years he has overseen the Dallas ATF Field Division, the recent spread of lanes in the Dallas / Fort Worth area is what has scared him the most.
“It’s very worrying,” he said.