Port Arthur man caught selling illegal firearm to federal agent in Snapchat scheme

Published 5:06 pm Thursday, January 5, 2023

A Port Arthur man, who tried to sell an illegally outfitted handgun via Snapchat advertising, is facing prison time after his customer turned out to be a federal agent.

Javier Jesus Morales, 26, pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of an unregistered firearm before U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone.

He faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

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A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a pre-sentence investigation, U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said.

According to information presented in court, Morales sold a Glock .9mm pistol Oct. 27, 2020, to a federal agent acting in an undercover capacity. The agent had responded to Snapchat social media advertising a sale.

The pistol was outfitted with an attached aftermarket “auto-switch,” authorities said.

The auto-switch is a device used to convert a standard, legal handgun into a fully automatic machine gun, which if not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, is illegal to possess.

The firearm was not registered to Morales.

Morales was indicted by a federal grand jury Feb. 2, 2022.

This case is being investigated by the Beaumont Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Batte is prosecuting.