Three Twin Cities men have been charged by federal prosecutors in connection with a criminal machine gun ring that operated through Snapchat.
The sting operation resulted in the arrest and indictment of Rafael Carter Wesley, 19, Kyrees Darious Johnson, 23, and Avont Akira Drayton, 22. Authorities said all three were from the Twin Cities, but did not list their hometowns.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office provides the following details:
In March, police discovered a Snapchat group called “BLICCS&STICCS3” that they suspected was used in trafficking machine guns, other firearms and controlled substances into the state.
Investigators obtained screenshots and videos of several members of the group selling, promoting or using devices that turn a semi-automatic pistol or rifle into a fully automatic machine gun.
An undercover agent infiltrated the group and planned to purchase such a device, called a “switch”.
Between March and June 2023, six separate transactions were carried out by undercover agents.
The first contact occurred in March when Wesley told an undercover agent he could sell him two switches for $700 or three for $900.
The officer said he would pay $100 more for Wesley to deliver the switches to St. Cloud. Wesley agreed and the purchase was made in St. Cloud on March 27.
On April 4, the agent arranged another purchase with Wesley and Johnson. This transaction took place in St. Paul and the agent purchased three switches for $900.
Later that month, on April 13, undercover agents met with Wesley to purchase a “non-serialized” Glock 17 for $700. After purchasing the firearm, officers asked Wesley to install the switch. Later that day, Wesley arranged a meeting between the undercover agents and Drayton to purchase a 3D printed device for an AR-style rifle for $550, which allowed the rifle to function as a machine gun.
During the transaction, Drayton showed undercover agents a video of himself firing the gun with the device and said the device made the gun fire “way too (expletive) fast.”
On May 11, Drayton met with an undercover agent in Eagan to purchase two more similar devices.
On June 9, undercover agents purchased a Glock pistol and a switchblade from Drayton for $1,300.
Johnson and Drayton made their first appearance Friday in U.S. District Court before a magistrate.
Judge John F. Docherty. Wesley made his first appearance on Thursday.