McAllen man accused of manufacturing ‘ghost guns’

A recently unsealed federal indictment alleges a 72-year-old McAllen man tried to sell illegally manufactured and unregistered firearms suppressors to what he believed was a Mexican drug cartel during an undercover sting.

William Scott Simms was charged with aiding and abetting the attempt to illegally export a silencer, possession of 11 unregistered machine (guns) and possession of an unregistered silencer, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Texas.

“Simms illegally manufactured 11 fully-automatic firearms to be sold for $10,000 each,” the news release said. “Simms manufactured the machine guns without any identifying serial numbers…Such firearms are commonly known as “ghost guns” because they are more difficult to trace their origins.”

The 72-year-old man allegedly met with an undercover agent working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at an unnamed business in Edinburg May 26.

During the meeting, Simms allegedly told the undercover agent that he had manufactured more than 10 fully automatic rifles — and had more firearms that no longer had registration numbers attached.

Simms told the agent he had machine guns in the back of his vehicle and said they did not have registration markings on them. Simms also told the agent that he was building machine guns with fraudulent identifying markings in order to prevent the firearms from being traced back to him, the complaint stated.

The undercover agent allegedly told Simms the manufactured machine guns would be exported to Mexico.

“Simms indicated that he would sell the machine guns to the (agent) knowing they would be illegally exported,” the complaint stated.

Simms gave a price of $10,000, or $10,500 if the undercover wanted machine guns with silencers attached.

Shortly after, the agent purchased a silencer for $500, the complaint stated.

“Simms was subsequently arrested by ATF and HSI Agents and the firearms were taken into evidence,” the court record stated.

“Simms allegedly planned to sell illegally manufactured and unregistered firearm suppressors. The alleged recipients were members of a Mexican drug cartel seeking to purchase weapons to be illegally exported into Mexico. The charges further allege Simms illegally manufactured 11 fully-automatic firearms to be sold for $10,000 each,” the release from the U.S. Attorney’s office stated

On June 15, an indictment charged Simms with additional offenses related to the weapons, court records show.

Simms made his initial federal court appearance May 28. He is expected back in court June 23 for his formal arraignment, records show.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect the McAllen man’s correct age.