Photo credit: Wiki Commons
Photo credit: Wiki Commons

A Bonsall man, in pleading guilty Thursday to firearms crimes that could land him in federal prison for life, admitted that he sold untraceable home-built assault rifles and illegally possessed guns in furtherance of drug trafficking.

Clay Bautista-Marquez, 31, conceded that he and an accomplice pieced guns together themselves from components and made nearly $6,000 selling them.

Bautista-Marquez also admitted to illegally possessing three rifles and a shotgun to protect a marijuana-dealing operation he ran.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 31.

The case stemmed from a multi-agency investigation that resulted in the seizure of more than 50 firearms and culminated in March with the arrests of Bautista-Marquez and four other men — fellow Bonsall residents Michael Martin, 38, and Christian Romero, 22; Matthew Nutt, 29, of Escondido; and Ruben Tovar- Ordonez, 45, of Temecula.

During searches and throughout the investigation, federal agents confiscated silencers, a short-barreled shotgun and homemade AR-15-style rifles.

Some of the firearms were stolen, had obliterated serial numbers or both, according to prosecutors. Agents also found thousands of rounds of ammunition and numerous unfinished gun pieces known as lower receivers, commonly referred to as ULRs.

Nutt, Romero and Tovar-Ordonez were charged with participating in a scheme to manufacture and traffic in firearms. Martin faces a charge of unlawfully possessing two silencers.

Romero pleaded guilty last month and is scheduled to be sentenced July 20. The other defendants’ cases have not yet been resolved.

As part of his plea agreement, Bautista-Marquez agreed to forfeit to the government three rifles, a shotgun, ammunition and $3,860, all of which had been seized by law enforcement personnel, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

— City News Service