EAST BRIDGEWATER — A man was arrested Wednesday when his home was raided by federal agents as a result of an ongoing feud between two motorcycle gangs, according to a federal affidavit.
Bruce Sartwell, 41, was arrested at his 157 Plymouth St. home by Homeland Security Investigations agents.
Sartwell is the regional president of the Brockton/East Bridgewater chapters of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston.
“These gangs utilize violence, fear and intimidation to impose their will, make money and protect criminal enterprises,” Special Agent Michael Belli wrote.
Sartwell, who owns the Pins and Needles Tattoo & Body Piercing Studio on North Main Street in Brockton, is a convicted felon with arrests and arraignments dating back to 1987, the affidavit states.
The affidavit states the Outlaws Motorcycle Club and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club are involved in a violent feud with one another.
The Outlaws were involved in an altercation on April 7 in Plymouth with the Sidewinder Motorcycle Club (an affiliate club of Hells Angels) at a mixed martial arts match. Taunts were exchanged, but police prevented any physical altercation, the affidavit states.
On Sept. 13, an Outlaws member had a physical altercation with a Sidewinder member, resulting in the shooting death of 39-year-old Eric Voshell of Oak Bluffs. The shooting also left a a 23-year-old Bridgewater man and a 37-year-old Fall River man injured. A 25-year-old man with a last known address in Taunton, Joseph Noe, has been charged with murder in the shooting.
Federal agents say they learned on Oct. 19 that a silencer originating from China, addressed to Sartwell and his East Bridgewater home, had been seized by Customs Border Protection at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The shipment had been declared a fuel filter with a value of $0.78.
Agents reviewed importation records, which revealed 65 shipments from Asia (with more than 55 coming from China) to Sartwell’s residence since Dec. 25, 2018, the affidavit states. A review of importation records to Sartwell’s former address in East Bridgewater revealed another 35 shipments from Asia between June 28, 2013 and Oct. 19, 2018, it states.
On Wednesday, the package containing the silencer was the subject of a controlled delivery by a member of the United States Postal Service, under surveillance by federal agents. Sartwell accepted and signed for the package and began walking through his enclosed backyard toward his garage with the package, along with two other packages, the affidavit states. Agents then approached Sartwell and he admitted to receiving a silencer in the mail, but claimed it was an airsoft suppressor and he received similar ones “every day” from the Wish app.
The agents told Sartwell it was deemed to be illegal and he said he bought it on an open app and the app shouldn’t sell such items if they are illegal, the affidavit states. He told agents all the items in his garage were airsoft.
Agents then executed a federal search warrant and found at least a dozen “large airsoft style weapons that had the appearance of real weapons” in his garage.
In a workshop area, agents found a hidden compartment with two milling plates, which serve “as a template to drill out a receiving for a firearm,” the affidavit states. They located a buffer spring, a firearm part used to assist with recoil of a rifle, and buffer tube, a piece of a rifle that the buffer spring fits inside, it states.
In a hidden compartment, agents say they found an AR-15 styled rifle “ghost gun,” one without any manufacturing or serial numbers to allow it to be traced.
On a work table, agents located an air-powered water dremel polisher, which is “used to cool a gun after milling,” the affidavit states, and a drill press.
In a hidden drawer on the work table, investigators say they found another silencer.
Inside the Plymouth Street house, agents located multiple black powder rifles and guns, the affidavit states. Agents located a box containing about 150 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition in the home, which are compatible with the AR-15 style rifle found in the garage, it states.
In the basement, agents say they noticed a floor-length mirror against a wall. They moved it and found a hidden storage area, where there was a safe with silencer parts and an instruction book on how to mill out an AR-15 weapon, the affidavit states.
Sartwell also received a package Wednesday addressed to him that contained “Level Three ceramic breast plates,” or body armor, it states.
Sartwell was arrested and charged in U.S. District Court with unlawful possession of a firearm not registered to him under the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
During an initial appearance in court on Wednesday afternoon, Sartwell was held without bail and remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals Service.
His next appearance in court has not yet been scheduled.