San Francisco

North Beach ‘merchant of violence’ pleads guilty to firearms manufacture

A British felon who ran an illicit arms manufacturing and distribution business out of his apartment in San Francisco’s North Beach district faces up to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty today to multiple firearms charges.

Craig Bolland, 39, used a 3D printer to make weapons-to-order for a customer base of drug dealers and thieves around the Bay Area. He also dealt in firearms obtained from other sources.

His activities came to light during an SFPD investigation into a January 2023 incident where a suspect, 24 year old Spencer Hansen-Mukomela, fired a gun while being arrested by officers in the Sunnydale housing projects. Police found multiple firearms in his possession.

It transpired that Bolland and Hansen-Mukolema had been in communication with respect to the sale and purchase of guns.

During a search of Bolland’s apartment on May 20, 2023, police found what prosecutors described as “a motherload of completed firearms” including:

  • an Intratec TEC-9 pistol (with obliterated serial number)
  • a fully automatic AR-15 style rifle (with no serial number)
  • a stolen Glock 19 handgun converted to fully-automatic fire
  • an IWI Masada handgun
  • a Polymer 80 gun (with no serial number)

They also found ammunition and dozens of firearms parts: frames, receivers and switches. Arms manufacturing equipment in the apartment included a 3D printer, a Ghost Gunner 3 milling machine and a drill press. Fentanyl and methamphetamine was also found in bags.

Bolland was arrested outside his home that day. After he had been placed in handcuffs he attempted to escape, sprinting away from police who were able to tackle and retrieve him.

He subsequently admitted to having made and distributed guns for the past two years which, he said, he sold to local drug dealers. He would test his weapons at night at Fort Funston, just a few hundred feet from San Francisco Police Department’s pistol range.

He said he had contacts who were interested in purchasing missiles, mines, mortars and grenade launchers.

Bolland, described by prosecutors as a “merchant of violence,” claimed to have turned to weapons manufacture after being laid off in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Appearing today at San Francisco federal courthouse before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, Bolland pleaded guilty to four counts: manufacturing and dealing firearms without a license, being a felon in possession of a firearm, being in possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, and possession of a machine gun.

“In terms of prison,” said the judge, “the maximum prison term for count one is five years, for count two it’s 15 years, for count three, it’s five years and for count four it’s ten years.”

“Of course there is always a possibility of these terms being served consecutively.”

The court had previously been told that Bolland is a British national who is a U.S. green card holder. He faces potential deportation after serving his sentence.

Chhabria referred him to probation officials for the preparation of reports and set a sentencing hearing for December 6, 2023 at 1:00pm.

Spencer Hansen-Mukomela remains in state custody in San Francisco where he faces charges of attempted murder and firearms possession. He will next appear in court on September 18.

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