4 Southern California Men Accused of Making, Selling Illegal Firearms

Four Southern California men face federal charges for allegedly making and selling dozens of untraceable assault-style weapons at several locations including a private horse ranch.

Matthew Nutt, 29, of Escondido, Ruben Tovar-Ordonez, 45, of Temecula and Christian Romero, 21 and Clay Bautista-Marquez, 30 of Bonsall were arrested Friday on various firearms charges.

A complaint unsealed Monday describes a Jan. 6 meeting between Romero, a student at Palomar College, and a confidential informant in which Romero assembled guns for sale. Investigators claim the informant left the meeting with AR-15-type semi-automatic rifles for approximately $2,000.

“These weapons are particularly dangerous because they bear no manufacturer markings or serial numbers making them virtually impossible to trace,” ATF Special Agent in Charge Carlos Canino said in a written release.

It’s believed that Romero manufactured other illegal firearms at a home on the property of Moody Creek Farms, a private horse ranch on Via Maria Elena, according to investigators.

Federal prosecutors allege that similar gun sales occurred at the Olive Hill Road home of Bautista-Marquez three times between December 8, 2014 and January 21.

Agents seized 16 firearms from inside Nutt’s vehicle and the home on West Lilac Road that he shares with his father. Investigators say those firearms were to be sold through the illegal gun ring.

Multiple search warrants uncovered more than 50 firearms, including silencers along with thousands of rounds of ammunition, official said.

The guns included unfinished lower receivers or so-called ULRs and AR-15-style homemade assault rifles, prosecutors said.

Under federal law, it’s legal to purchase ULRs without a Federal Firearms License because the parts by themselves are not considered firearms. However, once the ULRs are manufactured into completed receivers, it’s a violation of federal law to sell them without a license.

Another Bonsall resident, Michael Martin, 38, faces charges of possessing silencers that were not registered to him, according to investigators.

All but Martin face a maximum of 5 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine if convicted. The four men were held without bond, pending upcoming detention hearings.

Martin faces a maximum of 10 years behind bars and a $10,000 fine if convicted. He was released on a $20,000 bond.

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