PROVIDENCE – The U.S. Attorney’s Office has named three RI men facing federal firearms charges in separate Project Safe Neighborhood cases including a machine gun owned while drug trafficking, illicit machine guns and silencers, and three AR-15 rifles.
The full list of charges include possession of a machine gun in furtherance of drug trafficking and illegal possession of an array of illicit firearms, including multiple machine guns, eleven silencers, three AR-15 rifles, two long-barrel and three short-barrel rifles, as well as dozens of firearm magazines and various rounds of ammunition, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.
“Every illegal firearm loose in our communities is one too many, particularly when it comes to illicit automatic weapons that can inflict carnage on our families and neighbors with a single pull of the trigger,” remarked U.S. Attorney Cunha. “Combatting the proliferation of illegal firearms and keeping guns out of the hands of felons remains a core priority of this Office. These charges represent superb work by the ATF, HSI, USPIS and our local law enforcement colleagues, and reflect our resolve to keep illegal guns off Rhode Island’s streets and out of our communities.”
The charges were brought against the men in each of the following three cases:
Brendan Farley, Smithfield, RI: Firearm Possessed by Felon
On Dec. 6, a federal criminal complaint was filed charging Brendan Farley, 39, of Smithfield, with possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of ammunition by a felon, and possession of unregistered firearm silencers.
Charging documents allege that on Nov. 29, United States Postal Inspectors notified Homeland Security Investigations of a suspicious package in the mail addressed to Farley. An inspection of the contents of the package allegedly revealed several firearm components used to build or repair an AK-47 rifle. A further check by United States Postal Inspectors indicated that 45 parcels were delivered to Farley’s residence between December 2022 and November 2023, of which at least sixteen were shipped from various firearm or firearm-related part vendors.
Homeland Security Investigations determined that Farley had previously been convicted on state felony firearm and narcotics charges and therefore is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm or ammunition.
On Dec. 6, Homeland Security Investigations executed a court-authorized search of Farley’s residence and vehicle and, from his residence, seized an AR-15 fully automatic machine gun; AR-15 style rifle, AR-15 shotgun, five handguns, and two short-barrel rifles; eleven firearm suppressors or silencers, two of which were attached to firearms; two AR-15 lower receivers and various parts for an AK-47 rifle; 32 firearm magazines; and various supplies used to construct and/or repair firearms. Most of the firearms were privately made firearms, otherwise known as “ghost guns,” that bore no serial numbers or other manufacturer markings.
Agents seized two firearm magazines, including a drum-style magazine, from Farley’s vehicle.
The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Warwick Police Department, Providence Police Department, Pawtucket Police Department Portsmouth Police Department and Smithfield Police Department.
Jose Marrero, Woonsocket, RI: Possessing Machine Gun while drug trafficking
On Dec 6, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Jose Marrero, 35, of Woonsocket, RI, with two counts of possessing a machine gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, two counts of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and one count each of possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
According to charging documents and information presented to the court, as part of an ongoing Project Safe Neighborhoods investigation into Marrero’s alleged illegal possession of firearms, ATF agents executed a court-authorized search of Marrero’s residence and located two loaded firearms and assorted ammunition. The items were allegedly located on a bookshelf in a bedroom where two young children were asleep in cribs.
A semi-automatic firearm with a machine gun conversion device affixed to it, converting it into a machine gun, a semi-automatic handgun, assorted ammunition, fentanyl, and cocaine was also seized as result of this investigation.
According to court documents, it is alleged that the some of the firearms seized by law enforcement are identical to some firearms allegedly displayed by Marrero on a social media account he controlled.
According to court records, Marrero was convicted twice previously in Rhode Island state court on felony drug trafficking charges.
The matter was investigated by ATF, members of the ATF Violent Crime Task Force with substantial assistance from the Massachusetts State Police, and the Woonsocket and central Falls Police Department.
Joshua Pavao, Coventry, RI: Unlawful Possession of Machine Gun, Unregistered Firearm
On Dec. 6, Joshua Pavao, 43, who frequently resides in Coventry, was charged by way of a criminal complaint with four counts of unlawful possession of a machinegun and four counts of possession of an unregistered firearm.
It is alleged in charging documents that Coventry Police Department and East Providence Police Detectives and ATF agents discovered eight long guns, including four machine guns, inside a duffel bag belonging to Pavao that was found stored inside a garage of the Coventry residence where he frequently resided.
The discovery of the firearms followed the arrest of Pavao by East Providence Police on state charges brought as the result of an investigation into a Dec. 1, 2024 incident that included reports of shots fired; a car chase resulting in several motor vehicle crashes; as well as the discovery of three loaded firearms, 81 loaded rifle magazines, and a multitude of ammunition inside a vehicle driven by Pavao.
Federal criminal complaints and indictments are merely accusations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Brendan Farley is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald R Gendron; Jose Marrero is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine D. Lowell; Joshua Pavao is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul F. Daly, Jr.
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
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