San Diego, California - Grey Zamudio, a San Diego resident who has expressed racist and violent extremist sentiments on social media, was sentenced in federal court Monday to 24 months in custody for possessing a short barrel rifle and two silencers, none of which was registered as required by law.
Zamudio pleaded guilty on December 1, 2020, to all three counts of possession of an unregistered rifle with a barrel of less than 16 inches and two unregistered silencers in violation of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Act.
As the government noted at Zamudio’s detention hearing in this matter, “There are really no legitimate uses for silencers, other than to kill people. They are not used in hunting. They are not used for recreation purposes.”
The government’s sentencing memorandum notes that the circumstances of Zamudio’s crimes underscore the danger that he continues to pose to the public. The memo said Zamudio is motivated by a violent ideology and appears eager to commit acts of violence against Black people, liberals and others. The FBI was alerted to Zamudio by a tipster who viewed his social media posts, which included statements about “the need for ‘vigilante militias’” and “to crush the liberal terrorists” and that Zamudio was “ready to die” for his beliefs. These statements, together with the allegation that Zamudio had multiple firearms, were apparently so alarming that they led the tipster to share this information with the FBI, which then led to further investigation, including court authorization to search Zamudio’s telephone.
“This defendant has demonstrated a very troubling violent ideology, an intent to harm people, a lack of remorse, and a willingness to illegally possess firearms,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “For these reasons, he continues to pose a threat to public safety.” Grossman commended the work of prosecutors Timothy F. Salel and Jonathan I. Shapiro as well as the Joint Terrorism Task Force, including FBI and ATF agents and San Diego Police Department detectives and officers who worked on this matter. Grossman also urged anyone with information about similar threats made on social media to report it to authorities.
According to the complaint, on August 1, 2020, agents executed federal court-authorized search warrants on Zamudio’s apartment and truck. During the search of the apartment, agents seized two silencers and the short barrel rifle. As the FBI executed the court-authorized search, the San Diego Police Department served Zamudio with a California State Gun Violence Restraining Order (“GVRO”) based on recent threats of violence in numerous social media posts by Zamudio. Pursuant to the GVRO, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) seized another rifle (in addition to the short barrel rifle seized by the agents), two pistols, a large number of magazines, and several hundred to several thousand rounds of ammunition.
The sentencing memo said Zamudio’s text messages provide a window into his motivations and intentions. In one text dated June 5, 2020, Zamudio apparently boasted about getting ’to pull my Glock on a n**** (racial epithet) last Thurs...” On July 30, 2020, two days before his arrest in this matter, Zamudio posted a screenshot of a Tweet in which he stated, “They trying to dox me lol. I’m really hoping to get to kill someone finally.’” A couple of weeks earlier, on June 13, 2020, the Zamudio texted, “Tomorrow they gunna riot in la mesa again, wanna join the Patriots an smash on some BLM?”
The review of the Zamudio’s phone led to the prosecution of Cody Richard Griggers, now a former deputy sheriff in Georgia. Zamudio and Griggers exchanged messages on a Facebook group. In one exchange, Griggers indicated his desire to use his status as a law enforcement officer to get flashbangs and entry charges, and Zamudio responded, “’yeah I’ll pay big money for bang and boom . . . I’m ready to terrorize la.”
Violent ideology and illegal firearms are a dangerous combination. According to the sentencing memo, in a January 19, 2019, response to texts about how to improve the country, Zamudio wrote, “Assassinate the bad politians (sic), i feel as though we are protected under the Constitution to do so.”
“Mr. Zamudio's violent, threatening posts on social media led to serious concern for the safety of those who wished to exercise their first amendment right of peaceful protest, and I'm proud we were able to intervene so quickly,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “Thanks to a tip from the public, the San Diego FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force mitigated the threat within 72 hours. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will use all available tools to detect and disrupt threats which put our communities in danger. This case demonstrates the importance of the public immediately reporting any suspicious activity or threats they encounter to enable law enforcement to act quickly.”
“This investigation is a great example of cooperation between law enforcement agencies to keep our communities safe,” said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit. “I want to thank the officers, detectives, and agents who worked together on this case to prevent a potential act of gun violence.”
SUMMARY OF CHARGES Case Number 20CR2451
Grey Zamudio Age: 33
Title 26, United States Code, Sections 5861(d), 5845(a)(3), 5845(a)(7), and 5871 – Receipt and Possession of Firearms (One Short Barrel Rifle and Two Silencers) in Violation of the National Firearms
Registration and Transfer Act
Maximum Penalty: Ten years in prison, $250,000 fine
Joint Terrorism Task Force
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
San Diego Police Department