Vancouver man charged for illegal gun possession, feds seize multiple 'ghost guns'

Vancouver, Washington, resident charged with multiple counts of illegal firearms possession – some firearms are ‘ghost guns’ (Courtesy: FBI Seattle)

A man living in Vancouver, Washington was charged with illegal firearm possession on Monday. Authorities say they seized at least five ‘ghost guns.’

According to the FBI Seattle Division, 46-year-old Joao Ricardo DeBorba, a Brazilian National with multiple convictions for domestic violence assault, was arrested Friday on eight counts of illegal possession of firearms. He is being held at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac pending further court proceedings.  

Authorities say last week, law enforcement served a search warrant at DeBorba’s residence and seized five firearms that did not have serial numbers or manufacturers’ marks. Three of the so-called "ghost guns" were AR-15 style rifles and the other two were handguns, all believed to have been purchased online. In addition to the guns, authorities found a large amount of ammunition, a workbench with firearms parts and tools, firearm silencers, magazines and gun cases. 

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According to the criminal complaint, DeBorba has a history of illegally purchasing firearms:

  • In 1999, DeBorba enter the United States on a tourist visa. He overstayed the visa and allegedly falsified documents to work in the U.S. and purchase firearms.
  • In 2019, DeBorba entered false information on government forms while purchasing firearms in Portland, Lebanon, Oregon and Lacey, Washington. Shortly after those first three gun purchases, DeBorba was arrested for drunken driving and was found carrying a Glock pistol.
  • In Nov. of 2019, DeBorba was arrested for domestic violence assault. DeBorba was served with a "No Contact" order and was told to surrender his guns. He failed to do so, resulting in an arrest for violating the no contact order, and 20 guns were seized from his residence.
  • In Jan. of 2022, he was convicted in a second case of domestic violence assault. He was told again that he could not possess firearms. Based on his criminal history, authorities were able to obtain a search warrant for his arrest last week.

RELATED: SPD: 24 ghost guns recovered so far this year, compared to just 3 during same period last year

The case is being investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Vancouver Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives, and the Social Security Office of Inspector General. 

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations, and DeBorba will be presumed innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. If proven guilty, DeBorba could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for illegal firearms possession. 

RELATED: Gov. Inslee signs bills tightening gun rules

This is a developing story.