Salem Man Charged in State’s Largest ‘Ghost Gun’ Manufacturing Operation

A federal grand jury in Portland on Friday returned an indictment charging a Salem man for distributing counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and operating the largest known privately made firearm, or “ghost gun,” manufacturing workshop in Oregon from the basement of his home.

Tyler Ray Harnden, 29, has been charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin, distribution of fentanyl, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

According to court documents, on February 16, 2022, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and detectives from the Salem Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Section and Strategic Investigations Unit executed a federal search warrant on Harnden’s Salem residence.

Courtesy the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

During their search, investigators discovered a large ghost gun manufacturing operation containing dozens of homemade firearm components and firearms in various stages of completion.

Investigators also found and seized two pistols, three completed ghost guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition, 15 loaded high-capacity magazines, three drill presses and other assorted firearm manufacturing equipment, and approximately 200 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl.

Following his arrest, agents discovered additional evidence that Harnden had allegedly been paying people to conduct illegal straw purchases of firearms for him. Harnden allegedly used people with substance use disorders to purchase firearms for him in exchange for counterfeit oxycodone pills manufactured with fentanyl.

Courtesy the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

Agents also learned that Harnden was storing firearms at a relative’s house and had tried to convince the relative to sell some of his firearms to generate money for his jail spending account.

On March 15, 2022, ATF agents and Salem SIU detectives obtained and executed a federal search warrant on the relative’s house and seized four gun safes and 63 additional firearms belonging to Harnden, according to a release from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Harnden is in state custody on a supervised release violation and will be arraigned on his federal indictment at a later date. If convicted, Harnden faces a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.

Courtesy the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement. This case was investigated by ATF and the Salem Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott M. Kerin is prosecuting the case.

“Ghost guns” are homemade firearms without serial numbers assembled from kits or materials sold without background checks, making them easily acquired by criminals who otherwise would not be permitted to possess a firearm and nearly impossible for law enforcement to track.

Courtesy the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.

As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

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