California Man Pleads Guilty to Dealing AR-15 Firearms on the Dark Web

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A Grass Valley, California man pleaded guilty to trafficking guns on the dark web after investigations yielded overwhelming evidence against him.

It is hard for a day to pass by without an arrest being made in connection to criminal activity on the dark web these days.

Michael Paul Smith, a 44-year-old man from Grass Valley, California, has just pleaded guilty to manufacturing and dealing AR-15 firearms on the dark web.

He was first arrested back in February after months of investigations by federal agents.

His case is the latest in the increasing amount of illegal darknet trade busts happening this year across the United States.

Overwhelming Incriminating Evidence

Federal agents raided Smith’s home in February after a months-long investigation linked him with the illegal sale of guns on the dark web.

A federal affidavit presented in court reveals that the feds started investigations into the case in October 5, 2017.

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Apparently, Smith contacted a federal undercover agent on the dark web. He wanted to buy grenades and other explosives.

He would go on to negotiate the sale of AR-15 rifles and make sales to the agent on two occasions.

The incriminating evidence against him is overwhelming. The affidavit indicated that a transaction worth $4,400 was completed in Bitcoin on December 1 between the agent and Smith.

Another transaction would happen on January 4. The federal agent was in negotiation for a third transaction when the arrest was initiated.

During the arrest, a search of Smith’s house yielded more rifles, as well as a supply of LSD and methamphetamine. His wife, Julie Mae Smith, was charged with drug possession and arrested.

Prosecutors Are Seeking a Maximum Sentence

Arsenal of weapons collection.
Michael Paul Smith, a 44-year-old man from Grass Valley, California, has just pleaded guilty to manufacturing and dealing AR-15 firearms on the dark web.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Lee said that Smith was also manufacturing firearms at his home.

He would buy the materials he required on the dark web.

Lee revealed that between October 2017 and February 2018, Smith had sold eight rifles to one of their undercover agents.

He preferred to receive payment in Bitcoin. Lee added that Smith had five more rifles ready for sale at the time of his arrest.

Smith will be sentenced on September 7 in Sacramento’s District Court. The prosecutors are asking for a maximum sentence of five years as well as a fine of $250,000.

Smith’s wife was also caught in the dragnet and is expected to be presented in court to take a plea. She is to be charged with the possession of controlled substances while armed.

It appears she was well aware of the dealings of her husband, and possibly helped in one way or another.

Weapons of War

According to the investigators, Smith chose to deal the AR-15 rifles as they are extremely difficult to trace.

The AR-15 rifles are considered “Weapons of War”  in the U.S., and American citizens are not allowed to buy and own them without a permit.

More Weapons on the Dark Web

The dark web has made it easy for many to acquire modern high-performance firearms illegally. Firearms are at times cheaper on the dark web than on the street market.

Tactical carbine with the micro collimator.
The AR-15 rifles are considered “Weapons of War” in the U.S., and American citizens are not allowed to buy and own them without a permit.

Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. are working hard to curb the vice.

It has emerged that the U.S. is the largest source of firearms that are listed for sale on the dark web.

About 60 percent of the firearm listings on the dark web have their source in the U.S.

Firearms also make up the largest share of listings in the darknet weapons market, taking over 42 percent of the listings.

In a similar case, four members of an international darknet drug trafficking operation were sentenced in April of this year in Atlanta, Georgia.

They got sentences between one year and nine months and two years and nine months in prison. Each was also handed two more years of supervised release.

Smith becomes yet another statistic in the ever-rising levels of crime in the dark web. There is more gun trafficking on the dark web than the law enforcement agencies and researchers can quantify.

Considering the terrorist threat that’s present almost everywhere in the world today, such a situation is worrying.

Recently, there has been a string of school shootings in the U.S. This has made many people quite worried about their children’s welfare.

The thought of the guns being easily accessible on the dark web can only add more worry.



With the urge to know more about everything around us, I am an enthusiast researcher and writer with keen interest in expanding my knowledge in a bid to be well versed. Through writing, I express and share my feelings, ideas, and thoughts for like minded individuals.
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  1. Anonymous

    Only the left consider them weapons of war. All guns require background checks whether AR-15s or a pop gun. Some states are more strict than others.

    • Anonymous

      Very true, buying weapons from FFL dealers require background checks, have since 1993, probably always will.

  2. Anonymous

    That post is a joke. Whats that bullshit about people in the US cannot own them without a permit???? More CRAP!
    In the USA, anyone (minus felons) can legally own an AR15 and there is no permit required in most states. I think New Jsrsey, and massacgusettes require a FOID card, but maybe only 3 states MAX. Even California doesnt require a Foid card thry dont exist in that state either.

  3. Anonymous

    AR-15’s are semi-automatic rifles and are perfectly legal to buy by any US citizen not in a state where recent laws may prohibit them or where the citizen himself has a criminal record.

    They are not “assault rifles” which by definition can be fired on full automatic. They are more properly described as civilian rifle “look-alikes” to military assault rifles such as the M4. But in every other respect they are rifles designed for sport and self-defense and, for some types of game, hunting.

  4. Anonymous

    A heads up if you’re in California, there is a place in bottom half of California where you can buy the parts for a complete AR(other popular models as well) with just a CA drivers liscence. The point is; this is legal and costs way less than the street and it sounds like he was building and selling them. The first red flag to me would have been bitcoin as the payment. Lmao!

  5. Anonymous

    Who would want any such weapon? I have gone 73 years and have never wanted one! Can I make it to 100?

  6. Anonymous

    Since when is an AR-15 a weapon of war in the US? Considered by whom? Those are hunting rifles modified to look tough. Also, we don’t need a permit to own one. In California I just received an ad in the mail from the local gun store listing an AR-15 for 199.99

  7. Anonymous

    BULLSHIT! More liberal lies! Shit, I BUILD AR-15s and AR-10s for my RETIREMENT INCOME! Both are SEMI-AUTO! The weapon you are probably thinking of is the M-16, which is SELECT FIRE and which citizens in certain states with lots of permits can own!

    Get your BLOODY FACTS straight!

  8. Anonymous

    This article is wrong.

    It is 100% legal to make your own gun…ANY GUN. Even fully automatic, IF you make it yourself.


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