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A federal undercover operation disrupted a Snapchat group and arrested three men who were trafficking in illegal machine gun conversion devices – also known as switches or auto sears – and privately made "ghost guns," according to newly unsealed charges.

Rafael C. Wesley, 19, of Brooklyn Center, Kyrees D. Johnson, 22, of Minneapolis, and Avont A. Drayton, 21, of Burnsville, are charged in U.S. District Court with unlawful possession of machine guns, specifically that they sold these devices to undercover agents on numerous occasions this past spring.

All three remain jailed ahead of court appearances Tuesday in St. Paul. Legal representation for each of them has yet to be determined.

According to the charges:

An investigator with the Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force notified the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in March of a Snapchat group called "BLICCS&STICCS3" that was suspected of being used to help traffic machine guns, other firearms and illicit drugs in the Twin Cities "and outlying areas."

The investigator shared screenshots and videos of several people selling, promoting and operating machinegun conversion devices. With the help of a confidential informant, one law enforcement officer gained access to the group and began monitoring it while undercover in March.

After the officer posted a photo of a prop firearm to the group, claiming he recently bought the gun, Wesley reached out to the officer and asked whether he wanted to trade the gun for a switch, which he also referred to as a "button."

The undercover officer continued conversations with Wesley on Snapchat about potentially buying switches, which Wesley said would cost $700 for two or $900 for three. The undercover officer agreed to buy three and said he would pay an extra $100 if Wesley would deliver the switches in St. Cloud – which he did the next day.

Wesley followed up April 3 and asked the undercover officer whether he was still interested in buying more switches. The officer agreed to meet Wesley in St. Paul the next day to buy two Glock switches and a drop-in machinegun conversion device designed for an AR-style rifle. Johnson was there during those transactions as well.

Undercover officers later met with Wesley in Minneapolis on April 13 to buy an unserialized Glock 17 for $700. Wesley also agreed to install a previously purchased switch on the newly bought gun. Between March and June 2023, undercover officers carried out about six controlled buys with multiple members of the BLICCS&STICCS3 Snapchat group.

That same day, Wesley arranged for undercover officers to meet with Drayton to buy a 3D-printed drop-in machinegun conversion device for an AR-style rifle for $550. During the transaction, Drayton showed the undercover officers a video on his phone of Drayton shooting a gun with the drop-in device inserted.

Drayton commented to the officers that the drop-in made the firearm shoot "way too [expletive] fast."

On May 11, an undercover officer arranged to meet with Drayton in Eagan to buy two drop-in devices for $800. However, when Drayton arrived, he only had one and sold it to the officer for $400. On June 9, undercover officers again met with Drayton and bought a Glock pistol and a switch for $1,300.

Court records in Minnesota show varying criminal histories for each defendant.

Wesley has two pending cases in Hennepin County on charges of fifth-degree drug possession and possessing an unserialized "ghost" gun. Prior to his arrest on the federal charges, Wesley had active arrest warrants for failing to appear at a January hearing in that case.

In June, the ATF issued a search warrant for Wesley's Snapchat account, finding numerous videos and photos of what appear to be him advertising the sale of various guns he possessed, including several ghost guns and an assortment of switches. He also allegedly posted numerous photos of himself possessing various firearms to his publicly available Facebook page.

Johnson has been convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon, fleeing police, drug possession and carrying a gun in public without a permit. Drayton has convictions for carrying a gun in public without a permit and damage to property.