BOSTON – Two previously convicted felons have been arrested in connection with illegally selling firearms, including ghost guns, and illegally possessing ammunition. A ghost gun is a firearm that has been manufactured by an individual and not by a firearms manufacturing company.
Zachary Zella, 29, of Dudley, and Mickie Simmons, 31, of Brookfield, were arrested on May 25, 2022, on one count each of being a felon in possession of ammunition and dealing firearms without a license. The defendants were detained following initial appearances in federal court in Worcester on May 26, 2022. A detention hearing for Zella is scheduled for June 8, 2022, before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessey.
“In recent weeks, we have all seen the critical threat posed by gun violence in the United States and the devastating impact it has on our communities,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Preventing the illegal trafficking of firearms, and specifically ghost guns, helps protect the safety of Massachusetts residents by addressing this real and present danger at its source. These defendants, each barred from possessing firearms due to their criminal histories, are alleged to have manufactured unmarked firearms for sale in their homes, including assault-styled rifles. My office and our law enforcement partners remain committed to addressing the proliferation of illegal firearms and the threat they pose to our communities. Individuals who are manufacturing and dealing firearms, specifically ghost guns, will be identified and prosecuted.”
“In our fight against violent crime, every illegal gun taken off the street is a small victory, and every gun trafficker locked up is a big one, especially when they are convicted felons who are selling untraceable firearms,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “The disturbing level of gun violence in Massachusetts is undeniably exacerbated by the abundance of illegal firearms on the street. Our North Shore Gang Task Force is working to battle that tide, whether it’s through takedowns of violent gun-toting gangs, or one by one, arresting felons like Zachary Zella and Mickie Simmons whose alleged, unabashed criminal behavior, has put the safety of our communities in jeopardy.”
“The Massachusetts Department of Correction is extremely proud of its partnerships with public safety agencies,” said the Department of Correction’s Commissioner Carol Mici. “These relationships play an important part of the Department’s mission to public safety and are crucial in protecting our communities.”
According to the charging documents, on three separate occasions between March and May 2022, the defendants sold a confidential source four 9mm ghost gun pistols – one of which contained a Gamo laser sight – six magazines and 55 rounds of 9mm ammunition. During a later search of Simmons’ residence, authorities seized at least five ghost guns, including an AR-15 short-barrel rifle, and 15 ghost gun kits, numerous rounds of ammunition, components of assault-style rifles, several other firearms and more than $25,000 in cash. Additional ammunition was seized from Zella’s residence.
In 2016 and 2017, Zella was convicted in Dudley and Worcester District Courts on drug charges for which he was sentenced to two years in prison. In 2014, Simmons was convicted in Dudley District Court of breaking and entering, larceny and conspiracy for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
The charge of being a felon in possession of ammunition provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to a $250,000. The charge of dealing firearms without a license provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to a $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
U.S. Attorney Rollins, FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta and Massachusetts DOC Commissioner Mici made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Danial Bennett and Brendan O’Shea of Rollins’ Worcester Branch Office are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging document are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.