Three Santa Clara County residents are accused of churning out high-powered, custom-ordered guns for buyers from a “sophisticated ghost gun factory” hidden inside a home in San Jose’s quiet Willow Glen neighborhood, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Joseph Cahoon, 31, Jack Mahon, 38, and Amanda Bazzani, 32, were charged with multiple counts of illegal gun possession after investigators discovered a trove of guns, gun parts, and the tools to manufacture self-made, untraceable firearms that are commonly known as “ghost guns.”
Among the recovered firearms were AR-15-style rifles and pistols that had been converted into fully automatic weapons. All three suspects have felony records that prohibit them from possessing firearms.
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Investigators serving search warrants across three separate locations, including the Willow Glen home and a Morgan Hill storage locker rented by one of the suspects, seized more than 10 completed firearms, including eight assault rifles. They also located live ammo, fentanyl, and 3D printers, which can be used to manufacture ghost gun parts.
“Search warrants obtained 3D printers, drill presses, jigs, and other templates that were used to assemble firearms,” said Deputy District Attorney Michael Vidmar. “There was evidence that semi-automatic firearms were being converted into fully automatic machine guns.”
Ghost guns, untraceable by law enforcement because they lack serial numbers, have exploded in popularity in recent years, recent NBC Bay Area investigations have found.
In 2020, San Jose police said they recovered 206 unserialized firearms, up from just 75 in 2017. Most other large Bay Area cities are seeing similar trends. Some cities, such as San Francisco, have moved to ban the sale and possession of ghost gun kits in recent years.
“Ghost guns are swamping our community, illegal part by illegal part,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “This is an extremely dangerous game of Transformers. We are working tirelessly to dismantle these criminal networks.”
A joint investigation by NBC Bay Area and The Trace found ghost guns have become popular weapons of choice among terrorists and violent extremists, according to a leaked report from federal law enforcement officials.
The flyer, meant for distribution among various law enforcements agencies around the U.S., comes from the Joint Terrorism Assessment Team (JCAT). It highlights the growing nexus between ghost guns and crime, including attacks and plots orchestrated by terrorists, extremists and hate groups. JCAT is a partnership between the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, and Homeland Security.
The three suspects in the Santa Clara County bust were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon, but the appearance was postponed until Wednesday.