As El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Roberts and three other deputies approached 3450 Santos Circle in Cameron Park to do a mental health check and investigate alleged criminal threats, they noticed a rifle barrel sticking out of the bed of a red Toyota truck parked there. Roberts checked for occupants, but only found what he thought was an AK-style rifle barrel sticking out of an open box, along with various firearms parts, several military-style ammo boxes and the butt stock of another rifle.
Not knowing the subject’s intentions towards law enforcement, Roberts picked up the exposed butt stock and found the firearm to have a detachable magazine and flash suppressor. The weapon appeared to be capable of fully automatic fire. Roberts believed the gun, later determined to be a Japanese 7.7-millimeter Type 99 light machine gun, to be illegal. Also found in the truck were a tactical load-bearing vest, body armor, edged weapons, rifle scopes and binoculars.
According to an affidavit by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Matthew Garrett, Roberts had contacted Ramona McGee on May 11 regarding criminal threats to her by her husband, Joshua Bonn McGee. Ramona told Roberts that she was separated from her husband and that he had threatened to kill her. Roberts then spoke with Joshua McGee, who “admitted he was distraught about his separation from his wife, but denied making any threats to kill her.” Therese McGee, Joshua’s mother, also stated that her son had said if Ramona attempted to have him arrested, he would kill his wife and then himself.
The next day, the four deputies approached the residence to perform a mental health check, to ensure McGee was not a danger and investigate the reports of his threats. Their inquiry would eventually result in a federal indictment for the home’s occupant.
After finding the weapons, Roberts called McGee and told him to exit the residence. He initially denied being at the residence, but 11 minutes later exited the house. A sweep of the house was done while Roberts patted down McGee. He “appeared to be angry at the presence of law enforcement” and denied his threat of killing his wife or being suicidal, Garrett said in the affidavit.
When questioned, McGee said he got the machine gun from his grandfather and that it was inoperable. He noted that he was getting rid of the items in the truck. Under questioning, he said he was the only occupant of the house and that there were other firearms there, between 10 and 15, but no assault weapons. He declined surrendering the weapons and declined permission to search the house for additional illegal weapons. Roberts informed McGee that he intended to get a search warrant and that he would be detained but not arrested. McGee was detained inside a patrol car.
While trying to obtain the warrant, Roberts observed McGee acting strangely inside the car. He was trying to remove a door panel from the interior of the car, the affidavit said, and “appeared to be retrieving or secreting something from his person.” Deputies approached the vehicle. McGee suddenly turned and quickly pointed an object at the deputies, who ducked out of the way, believing the object to be a concealed firearm. As another deputy drew his handgun, it was determined that McGee had pointed a pack of cigarettes at the deputies. At this point, the deputies placed McGee under arrest on suspicion of making criminal threats and possession of a machine gun.
At 2:30 p.m., the warrant was signed. The deputies, still on scene and now joined by a detective and a sergeant, entered the residence to begin their search. Roberts retrieved the items from the truck, including the AK- or SKS-type rifle barrel and the Type 99 machine gun he had secured earlier. Body armor was also found. The rear license plate of the truck had been modified so that it could be folded down and back in order, presumably, to avoid identification while committing a crime.
In the master bedroom of the house, a small baggie containing marijuana was found underneath a baseball-style hat marked “Police.” A rifle, large-capacity .223 caliber rifle magazine, a glass pipe commonly used to smoke methamphetamine, a loaded Mini-14-type rifle magazine, a locked gun case and indicia of McGee’s address were also found.
Inside the case, Roberts found a Mauser Model O bolt-action rifle, a Browning 12-gauge shotgun, a Ruger Mini-14 — classified under California law as an assault weapon — a loaded 30-round (large capacity) magazine inside the Mini-14, a Springfield Model 944 12-gauge shotgun, a Remington Model 725 bolt-action rifle, a Japanese bolt-action rifle, a Gustav Genschow .22 caliber rifle, two Remington Model 879 shotguns and a Winchester Model 1200 12-gauge shotgun.
On the top shelf of the safe was a Tupperware-style container containing 226.9 grams of suspected methamphetamine. Roberts conducted a test and the substance tested presumptive positive as meth. A Dymo brand weight scale was on a table near the safe. Matthews, in the affidavit, believed, judging from his experience, that the meth was possessed for distribution rather than personal use.
In the garage, a canister contained “honey oil” — a type of concentrated cannabis — was found. Three PVC tubes capped with valves were found to contain finely ground marijuana. In total, about a pound of cannabis was found in the tubes. Both used and unused cans of butane, used, based on deputies’ experience, to produce the THC oil from the cannabis, was found. Roberts also found a wooden rifle stock, a foreign-made rifle upper receiver, a plastic container holding about 1.5 pounds of marijuana “shake,” a plastic bag with about a pound of kief -—the resin glands of cannabis — and a small glass beaker with burn marks.
Precursor chemicals including lye, chlorine, muriatic acid, acetone and sulfuric acid were found, along with three small containers with a substance suspected to be mercury.
In the kitchen, Roberts found four glass Pyrex dishes with brown residue and denatured alcohol. In the living room, a Butane fuel can and “MSM 1000 mg” were found. MSM, the affidavit noted, is commonly used to cut and dilute meth, increasing the weight and volume.
The sergeant located a high-temperature glass baking pan inside barrels on the side of the house. These are commonly used for heating both during and after the manufacture of narcotics. Also found nearby were a short piece of plastic tubing, a small plastic funnel and a silver tin with a white substance inside. On the opposite side of the house, a soup can was found with a large amount of a similar white substance inside. Nearby, a black case containing a bolt-action rifle was found.
Based on their experience, the deputies believed McGee to be manufacturing methamphetamine, and, judging on the state of the materials used, had been doing so for some time.
The Environmental Management Division of the El Dorado County Community Development Agency was called and Hazardous Materials Specialist Mark Moss determined that there were hazardous levels of mercury vapor present at the residence. On May 15, a notice was sent to the property owners informing them of the illegal drug lab suspected to be on the property.
On June 4, Garrett found there were no records of legal ownership of the Type 99 based on the serial number. It was not lawfully registered to anyone in the U.S. The next week, he sent it to West Virginia for evaluation. On June 27, ATF Firearms Enforcement Officer Kyle Baughman concluded that the Type 99 was a working machine gun.
On Aug. 8, a federal Grand Jury indictment, signed by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Benjamin B. Wagner, was filed against McGee. He faces one count of possession of a machine gun, one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession of materials and equipment meant for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine.
McGee is in custody and was due to be arraigned on Aug. 14 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dale A. Drozd.