Burnsville man pleads guilty in federal court to illegal possession of machine guns

Zwack had been convicted on a felony charge of third-degree possession of methamphetamine in November of last year which prohibits him from possessing firearms.

Burnsville
Benjamin Zehle Zwack (Sherburne County Jail)

A Burnsville man has pleaded guilty to illegal possession of machine gun conversion devices, or switches, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.

According to court documents, in March 2023, federal agents received information that Benjamin Jehle Zwack, 29, an employee at a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) business, was selling 3D-printed machine gun conversion devices, commonly known as “switches” or “auto sears.” These devices enable firearms to be fired as a fully-automatic weapon by a single function of the trigger and qualify as machine guns under federal law.

On March 7, 2023, an undercover agent went to the FFL business, a retail storefront location in Savage, Minn., and purchased from Zwack 11 3D-printed machine gun conversion devices designed to convert a semiautomatic AR-type weapon to shoot automatically. During the purchase, the undercover agent observed a firearm in Zwack’s waistband.

Law enforcement officers subsequently executed a search warrant on Zwack’s residence and vehicle on March 30, 2023. During the searches, officers recovered a Girsan-Regard 9mm semi-automatic pistol from the center console of Zwack’s vehicle and a shotgun and ammunition from his residence. A search of Zwack’s storage locker revealed additional firearms, suspected homemade silencers, ammunition and a suspected destructive device.

Crime Watch Minneapolis also reported on March 31 that a firearms business in Savage had experienced an ATF raid. It was later learned through the charging document that the business was the location where Zwack had been employed and where he was selling the switches. The business has not reopened at that location since the ATF raid.

Zwack had been convicted on a felony charge of third-degree possession of methamphetamine in November of last year which prohibits him from possessing firearms. Zwack received a stay-of-imposition on that felony conviction from Dakota County Judge Timothy J. McManus. Zwack was instead sentenced to serve one day in jail for which he received credit for time already served, and he was placed on probation for a term of three years, to 2025.

Zwack pleaded guilty on Wednesday in U.S. District Court before Chief Judge Patrick J. Schiltz to one count of possession of a machine gun. A plea agreement in the case indicates that Zwack could be sentenced to at least 21 to 27 months in prison, but possibly higher depending on sentencing calculations. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later time.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Dakota County Drug Task Force.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.

 

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.