• 70°

Merced man indicted for possessing and manufacturing 10 destructive devices

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned an eight-count indictment today against Wes Parker McDaniel, 52, of Merced, charging him with four counts of possessing unregistered destructive devices, manufacturing destructive devices, impersonating a federal agent, being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, and malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to the indictment, between Feb. 1, 2021, and June 22, 2021, McDaniel manufactured approximately 10 destructive devices, which were not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and possessed those devices on four separate occasions in Merced and Kings Counties. On June 20, 2021, one of those devices is alleged to have caused damage to residential rental properties in Merced.

In addition, McDaniel unlawfully possessed a rifle and ammunition. As a convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing firearms, including destructive devices, and ammunition.

The indictment also charges that on June, 20, 2021, McDaniel falsely represented himself to be a Special Agent of the National Security Agency for the purpose of arresting another person.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Merced Police Department, the Lemoore Police Department, and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, McDaniel faces a mandatory minimum prison term of five years in prison and a maximum prison term of 20 years if convicted of malicious destruction of property by means of explosive materials. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison for each count of possessing unregistered destructive devices, manufacturing destructive devices, and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. He faces an additional three years in prison for the impersonation charge. Each of the charges also carries a maximum fine of $250,000. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.