CHICAGO (CBS) – A South Suburban man was arrested on federal firearms charges for allegedly tampering with more than 35 firearms, including ghost guns, machine guns and rifles.
Arshad Zayed, 38, of Orland Hills, was charged with willfully trafficking firearms without a license and unlawful possession and transfer of a machine gun, according to a news release. He was arrested Wednesday morning and made a first appearance in federal court in Chicago.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, feds were doing more than the $10 special at the Matteson Auto Spa, located on Cicero Avenue in the southern suburb of Matteson. Zayed ran the car wash, and federal prosecutors said he was using the business as a front to sell the guns.
The firearms — from handguns to long rifles and machine guns — were all shipped to car washes and sold there, federal authorities said.
Read the criminal complaint against Zayed
According to court records, from August 2021 until last week, the federal government used a high-ranking gang member who turned informant to tape audio and video of gun transactions. Zayed had no idea, the Feds said.
A total of 36 weapons were sold seven times, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said during a purchase that the information – identified as “CS-2” – “came to and entered the Matteson Auto Spa…ZAYED directed CS-2 to a room in the car wash that appeared to be ZAYED’s workshop, where Zayed showed off the two AR-15 style rifles.”
During meetings with the informant, tapes show Zayed then asking, “Okay, are you taking this now?” which CS-2 indicated it was. ZAYED replied, “Okay, let me clean it all up,” prosecutors said.
Footage from the secret recordings reportedly shows Zayed wearing gloves cleaning the weapons.
The feds said: “ZAYED is seen on video placing the firearms into a large box and can be observed removing a shipping label from the box, stating, ‘I just don’t want to not that my name is there. You never know bro.”
But footage provided by prosecutors indicated that Zayed had not removed all of the tags – as one showed his name and the address of the car wash.
Court records showed that several of the guns were ghost guns – they had no serial number and could not be traced.
And it was a big business with thousands of dollars made on every transaction.
In March, after six successful purchases with money tracked by the FBI, the feds said the informant was observed counting approximately $12,000 in cash in front of ZAYED…asked how he would receive the guns and Zayed replied, “It’s in a brown box.”
Minutes later, authorities say footage shows Zayed exiting the business with the box.
He was caught saying, “Everything in the picture is in this box” and saying that the box contains “six large [rifles] five cubs [handguns].”
A total of 12 weapons, ammunition and silencers were in the box, prosecutors said.
The city of Matteson said it had no idea what the charges were against the car wash manager. They were also reviewing the 65-page criminal complaint to see if they could legally revoke the car wash’s license.
Terry learns that the owner of the car wash claims he didn’t know what the manager was up to.
The charge of unlawful possession and transfer carries a sentence of up to ten years in federal prison. The charge of illegal trafficking carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Zayed is scheduled to appear before US Investigating Judge Beth Jantz on Friday.
The charges were announced by officials from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, the FBI Chicago Field Office, the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Chicago Police Department and IRS Criminal Investigation. Division in Chicago.