Minnesota man sentenced for manufacturing, selling ghost guns

Various evidence law enforcement seized while investigating Jay Olson, as pictured in court documents.  (Supplied)

A 22-year-old man was sentenced in federal court for illegally manufacturing and selling ghost guns in the Twin Cities area and elsewhere in Minnesota. 

Jay James Olson, 22, was sentenced to 60 months in prison, or 5 years, followed by three years of supervised release for engaging in the business of manufacturing and selling ghost guns without a license, the Department of Justice said in a press release. 

Between the fall of 2021 through April 2022 Olson was manufacturing ghost guns or unserialized privately made firearms. He sold them to people he knew, those who intended to use them for illegal activities and others who were prohibited from owning firearms. He sold an estimated 200 firearms within eight months, according to court records. 

A police informant met with Olson in the Spring to inquire about purchasing firearms. During several encounters, Olson offered to sell various firearms he made along with other guns and accessories including a silencer, an auto-sear or switch, and high-capacity magazines.

Olson allegedly told the informant that while it was illegal to own guns without serial numbers, it was "safer" to have one because it made it more difficult for law enforcement to track down who owned the firearm, the complaint states. 

Olson would also show potential buyers how to use the weapons and accessories and in one case told someone how to use a cloth to remove fingerprints from the firearms. 

However, due to the federal government announcing a new initiative targeting unserialized firearms and making it "more dangerous" to own and sell the guns, Olson increased the price on the informant. 

On April 26, 2022, the informant met with Olson and three others at a residence near St. Cloud to purchase several firearms and accessories for $20,000. Once the transaction took place, law enforcement moved in and arrested everyone involved. 

In total, Olson tried to sell the informant 16 unserialized manufactured firearms, nine high-capacity magazines, one firearm silencer, an auto-sear or switch and other firearms accessories, the complaint alleges.  

Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Olson’s apartment and found additional firearms, assembly kits, various drugs, cash, and other miscellaneous firearm parts and accessories, according to court records. 

Olson plead guilty in September 2022 and was sentenced in federal court on Wednesday to the maximum penalty allowed, five years in prison. 

Additionally, Olson has pending criminal cases in Stearns County for several weapon-related charges and in Mille Lacs County for fifth-degree possession of marijuana wax.