Mississippi officials: Rise in illegal machinegun devices present significant danger to community

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, May 2, 2024

Mississippi officials said they have seen an increase in illegal devices that convert semi-automatic handguns into machine guns.

U.S. Attorney Todd Gee reported Thursday that his office has seen a rise in cases involving illegal machinegun conversion devices (MCDs), commonly known as “switches” or “auto sears,” which convert semi-automatic handguns into fully automatic weapons (i.e., machineguns) in a matter of seconds.

MCDs present a significant danger in our community to both the public and law enforcement. An individual found in possession of an MCD will face up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported a 570% increase in the number of MCDs collected by police departments between 2017 and 2021, the most recent data available.

Today in the Southern District of Mississippi, defendant Kylin Demond Russell of Jackson, 22, pled guilty to illegal possession of a machinegun by possessing a Glock pistol with an attached MCD. According to court documents, on Friday, February 9, 2024, Russell led Capitol Police officers on a high-speed chase, reaching speeds of up to 120 mph, after failing to yield for a traffic stop. When his vehicle ultimately came to a stop, he attempted to flee on foot, was detained, and two Glock pistols with attached MCDs were found in the vehicle. Capitol Police contacted the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The vehicle driven by Russell appears to match the description of a vehicle seen in a video, taken by a citizen in Jackson and widely distributed on-line, showing a person firing a weapon from the vehicle.

Russell was indicted by a federal grand jury on February 21, 2024. He will be sentenced on August 2, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Todd W. Gee and Special Agent in Charge Joshua Jackson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives made the announcement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Allen is prosecuting the case.

The case is being investigated by the ATF and Capitol Police and is a result of Operation Unified and Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), both of which are coordinated efforts between state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies. Agencies participating in Operation Unified include the Mississippi Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Narcotics, Capitol Police and Office of Homeland Security; the Jackson Police Department; the Hinds County District Attorney and Hinds County Sheriff’s Office; the Mississippi Department of Corrections; and the FBI, DEA, and ATF, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The PSN Program is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.