D.A. Bragg Indicts Right-Wing Extremist For Allegedly Selling Guns From Federal Prison

Hayden Espinosa reportedly moderated a Telegram channel used by far-right individuals, including the perpetrator of the 2022 mass shooting that targeted Black people in Buffalo. Prosecutors say Espinosa used contraband cellphones to continue running the chat.

| 20 Jun 2024 | 10:26

A man that sold guns and gun components to right-wing extremists via a Telegram group chat–from federal prison in Louisiana, no less–has been indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, after he allegedly sold weaponry to an undercover NYPD officer. One user of the chat reportedly committed the 2022 mass shooting at Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York, which specifically targeted Black victims.

Prosecutors allege that 24-year-old Hayden Espinosa moderated the “3D Amendment” chat during a stint at a 22-month prison at Federal Correctional Complex Pollock, which is located in Louisiana. He reportedly utilized contraband cellphones to do so. Indeed, Espinosa was apparently doing that bid due to his prior utilization of social media to sell weaponry, meaning that his initial sentence had not served to deterred him.

Espinosa was immediately arrested again after completing the prison bid on June 4. He faces multiple charges of transporting and selling firearms.

Prosecutors note that members of the Telegram chat are motivated by “Neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologies and [right-wing] accelerationism, a belief that violence, including through obtaining firearms and weapons, is necessary to achieve a total collapse of the status quo and to create a new extreme-right sociopolitical reality.”

D.A. Alvin Bragg noted he received help with the case from federal agencies including Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. It was part of the Ghost Gun Initiative, which aims to slow the spread of hard-to-track–and often 3D-printed & home-assembled–weaponry throughout America.

”While incarcerated, Hayden Espinosa allegedly sold guns and gun parts by using contraband electronic devices. Furthermore, we allege Espinosa operated a Telegram channel that is a hub of ethnically and racially motivated extremist ideology. The combination of extremism and firearms is incredibly dangerous and threatens the safety of so many New Yorkers,” D.A. Bragg said.

”This investigation speaks to the power of collaboration across agencies, boundaries and jurisdictions. The agents and officers worked tirelessly to identify and disrupt this illegal trafficking scheme stopping its flow of illegal machine guns and other firearms into our community,” Brian Miller, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF New York Field Division, said.

Prosecutors say that Espinoza utilized the username “Treason 3DA” in the chat that he moderated, under which he’d post advertisements for various weaponry parts; these reportedly included silencers, high-capacity magazines, and Glock-style handguns. He also advertised auto-sears, prosecutors said, which can convert semi-automatic weaponry into machine guns.

In one linked Instagram post shared by prosecutors, Espinoza reportedly told customers to “#hmu [hit me up]” for items such as “#guns” and a “#switch”–a switch being a slang term for an auto-sear. He then further instructed buyers to reroute to the Telegram page. One buyer then reportedly sent a picture of a gun, with a “switch” attached, to Espinosa. “Got the switch thanks a ton bro,” he wrote.

One other screenshot shared by prosecutors reportedly depicts Espinosa seated in a car, wearing a swastika armband and a balaclava.

For selling such auto-sears, Espinosa was sentenced to his term in Louisiana in December 2022. Prosecutors said that Epsinosa then began selling weaponry to an undercover cop on three separate dates in 2023, which earned him his latest case.

On August 7, 2023, he reportedly sold two auto-sears–one for a Glock-style handgun and for a 3D-printed AR-style rifle–to the police officer. On August 25, he tried to sell a Glock-19 to the officer, prosecutors said. On November 12, he sold two silencers to the cop, they added.

Espinosa is set to be arraigned in NYC on June 24.