Prison inmate accused of selling ghost guns through site visited by Buffalo supermarket shooter

A former Louisiana prison inmate has been charged with selling ghost guns while behind bars through a social media operation uncovered in the wake of a white supremacist’s massacre of 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket, New York City authorities said Tuesday.

Hayden Espinosa, 24, is charged with selling illegal firearms and components to an undercover New York City Police Department officer through a Telegram channel he moderated that promoted white supremacist and neo-Nazi views, and which counted the supermarket shooter among its visitors, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said.

Using cellphones smuggled into Louisiana’s Federal Correctional Complex Pollock, authorities said Espinosa continued to do business after his 2022 conviction for 3D-printing and selling weapons components in Texas. He actively advertised the sale of illegal handguns, high-capacity magazines, silencers and devices called auto sears used to convert handguns and rifles into automatic weapons, according to court documents. On three occasions in 2023, he allegedly sold or attempted to sell guns and components to an undercover officer, the indictment said.

“This defendant, who was serving time for selling unregistered machine gun parts, (was) selling guns and gun parts from the comfort of his cell,” Rebecca Weiner, NYPD’s deputy commissioner for counterterrorism and intelligence, said at a news conference.

Espinosa, of Corpus Christi, Texas, was released from prison June 4 and immediately arrested on the New York indictment, Bragg’s office said. It was unclear whether he had an attorney in the new case. He is scheduled to be arraigned June 24.

Police discovered Espinosa’s Telegram channel in May 2022 following Payton Gendron’s attack at a Tops supermarket that killed 10 Black shoppers and employees and wounded three other people, Weiner said.

“The initial discovery of this Telegram chat was one that Peyton Gendron had frequented, so that’s the genesis of the case,” she said.

Gendron has pleaded guilty to murder and hate-motivated terrorism charges and is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole. He is awaiting trial on related federal charges that could result in the death penalty.

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