RANSON, WV –-(Ammoland.com)- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service arrested a West Virginia man for selling what they claim were machine gun parts.
Timothy John Watson, 30-years old, established the website “portablewallhangers.com” in early 2020. The company sold 3D printed “wall hangers” through Instagram, Boogaloo Bois Facebook groups, and through the company’s website for $15. According to court documents, the wall hangers were drop-in auto sears that allowed the buyer to convert their semi-automatic AR-15s into a machine gun.
Watson did not design the wall hangers sold on his website. The 3D files the man used are found through multiple sources on the internet. Posters list the print files as a drop-in auto sear. Watson donated 10% of all sales to Justice for Duncan Lemp Go Fund Me campaign.
The Montgomery County Police Department SWAT team shot and Killed Duncan Lemp during a no-knock raid. The MCPD served a search warrant on the Lemp residence because of an anonymous tip that Lemp owned “illegal” firearms. The Police claim that Lemp confronted them, while the Lemp family and eyewitness accounts say that Lemp was in bed when shot. Lemp has become a symbol of the oppressive police state to many of those in the “Boogaloo” movement.
The FBI tracked down Watson with the help of a cooperating defendant who had one of the wall hangers. He told the FBI he found the company through a Boogaloo Boi Facebook group. The FBI also found that the man that shot members of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office purchased a wall hanger from the site.
Under the guise of being members of the Islamic terrorist group, Hamas, the FBI in Minneapolis met with the cooperating defendant and paid him money to order the wall hangers. The man purchased the device using PayPal, and Watson shipped him the wall hanger from his Stamps.com account. Watson registered both the Stamps.com account and PayPal account to his real name and address.
Federal agents were also able to tie Watson to portablewallhangers.com because the man registered the business with the West Virginia government and used his real information when he purchased the domain.
The federal agents were also able to get access to some of Watson’s email exchanges. They claim that Watson and users spoke in code about using the wall hangers as auto sears.
One user wrote: “No matter what I’ve tried, I cannot get my key hook to mount correctly, it keeps blocking my door from opening when I pull it open.”
Watson replied: “In this case it sounds like you may want to consider mounting your Portable Wall Hanger products farther away from your door. We will send out another duplicate Order for you free of charge. If you did in fact receive a factory defective order we want to be sure you ‘re happy with your purchase! If it turns out that mounting your Portable Wall Hanger products in a different location in your house solves the issue, you’ll have some extra Portable Wall Hanger goodies to gift to some friends. We will personally send you your tracking # as soon as your order ships out so it doesn ‘t [sic] get lost in the dot come sauce again. Thank you for your business and patience, we really apologize for the inconvenience.”
T @ Portable Wall Hanger”
Facebook provided the FBI with the IP associated with the company’s Instagram. It was a Comcast IP that the cable company assigned to the account of Watson’s live-in girlfriend, Emily Cross. The address on file with the cable company was Watson’s home.
The FBI also used other email interactions to show buyers knew that the wall hangers were auto sears.
One Instagram user wrote: “Do you guys keep records of the hangers you sell and information on the customers you sell them to? I’m worried about my paypal info being stolen or something bad happening to my dog, if your business is compromised.”
Internet memes show ATF agents killing dogs. The FBI alleges the user was referring to the risk of being arrested because of buying the device. Watson replied incorrectly that by using PayPal that the user’s identity was safe.
Watson replied: “All records are private information and are never sold or shared. All payment transactions are handled through paypal so your billing address never goes in our system (unless it’s synonymous with your shipping address, in which case it still would remain private)”
In October, an FBI confidential informant purchased a wall hanger and sent money to Watson via PayPal. The FBI, at the same time, had Watson under surveillance. They were able to photograph Watson and Cross dropping off packages at the post office to be mailed to the confidential informant.
The FBI opened and photographed the contents of the packages before sending it to the ATF for testing. The ATF installed the device into a Colt AR-15 and fired a five-round burst without the AR-15 malfunctioning. They confirmed that Watson did not have a license to manufacture firearms.
The FBI served an arrest warrant and took Watson into custody without incident. The prosecutor charged Watson with conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, possession of a machinegun, engaging in business as a manufacturer or importer of, or dealer in, and firearms without having paid the special occupational tax.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.