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Officials announce gun seizures, arrests as part of ghost gun enforcement

Firearms seized during an undercover operation dubbed "The Privately Made Firearm Crime Reduction Project." San Diego, Calif. May 31, 2023.
Courtesy of KGTV
Firearms seized during an undercover operation dubbed "The Privately Made Firearm Crime Reduction Project." San Diego, Calif. May 31, 2023.

A three-month law enforcement operation aimed at reducing the number of unserialized "ghost guns" throughout San Diego led to the seizures of 165 firearms — including 82 ghost guns — and the prosecution of 29 people, officials announced today.

From February through May, nearly 90 separate law enforcement operations were conducted, leading both to the firearms seized and the recovery of large quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine, officials said.

The operation targeted individuals looking to sell ghost guns, including an active-duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton who allegedly sold 22 ghost guns to undercover federal agents and agreed to sell 10 more guns that he was told would be taken into Mexico, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.


The Marine is among 29 defendants charged in both federal and state court for firearms and drug offenses. Four other cases remain under review by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

The operation — dubbed The Privately Made Firearm Crime Reduction Project — used data to focus enforcement on areas of San Diego where gun violence was on the rise, according to officials.

Weapons seized over the course of the operation included machine guns, Glock Switches used to convert firearms into fully automatic weapons, short- barrel rifles, pistols and silencers.

Law enforcement officials say there has been a marked increase in the number of ghost guns involved in San Diego County crimes.

A study conducted by the San Diego Association of Governments indicated there was a 401% increase in ghost guns found by law enforcement in San Diego County from 2019 to 2021. The San Diego Police Department, which created a Ghost Gun Apprehension Team in 2021, reported that around one-quarter of guns seized during its investigations that year were ghost guns.


Nationally, around 20,000 ghost guns were recovered by police last year and reported to the ATF for involvement in criminal investigations.

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