Federal inmate caught running a black-market gun business behind bars

NEW YORK, NY – A federal inmate recently released from a Louisiana prison finds himself back in custody after New York prosecutors allege he orchestrated a black-market gun trade using a smuggled cellphone.

Hayden Espinosa, 24, is accused of moderating a Telegram group called “3D Amendment,” which facilitated the 3D printing and trading of firearms and gun modifications, including auto sears—devices that convert semi-automatic guns into fully automatic weapons. Federal law classifies auto sears as machine guns, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Espinosa’s criminal history includes a 2021 conviction in Texas for 3D printing and selling similar devices through the mail. Despite this, authorities allege he continued his illicit activities while incarcerated, using contraband cellphones to manage the Telegram group.

The investigation took a darker turn when a mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store led authorities back to Espinosa. The shooter, Payton Gendron, was a member of the 3D Amendment group. Gendron was sentenced to life in prison last year for killing 10 Black individuals and injuring three others in a racially motivated attack.

Upon Espinosa’s release from prison on June 4, Louisiana deputies swiftly arrested him on new charges. At a news briefing in Manhattan, Homeland Security Investigations New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan Arvelo described the Telegram group as a “clandestine chat group” promoting neo-Nazi and anti-government ideologies alongside selling firearms and gun parts.

Investigators revealed that Espinosa allegedly sold guns, silencers, and auto sears to an undercover NYPD officer while still behind bars. Photos on the 3D Amendment Instagram page showed parcels packed and labeled for shipment. Espinosa is scheduled to appear in court on June 24 for an arraignment on multiple firearm-related charges.

Authorities have confiscated his contraband cellphones, but the extent of the damage his actions may have caused remains a concern. “There’s no telling the bloodshed these weapons could have caused if placed in the wrong hands,” Arvelo said.