Meriden man charged with making ‘ghost guns’ following SWAT team raid

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MERIDEN — A local man being held on $2 million bond faces charges after police seized more than a dozen illegal guns from his apartment, along with tools and parts to illegally manufacture guns.

Jonathan Willette, 31, of 439 S. Curtis St., first floor, was held on $3 million bond following a police raid on Thursday. He was arraigned in Meriden Superior Court on Friday. A judge lowered bond to $2 million and continued the case to June 29. 

Officers searching the apartment found 13 illegal firearms, many of which did not have serial numbers. Known as “ghost guns,” some were also converted to fully automatic weapons.

Police Chief Roberto Rosado said officers will try to determine if any of the weapons have been used in crimes. The process is more difficult, but not impossible with ghost guns. The state forensic laboratory may be used to analyze the evidence, Rosado said. 

Several drill presses, firearm molds, drill bits and a large number of gun parts were found, leading police to charge Willette with manufacturing illegal firearms, police said.

Police seized 93 fully loaded, high capacity, firearm magazines, several drum magazines capable of holding 40-50 rounds, and body armor. There was a child in the home when police served the search warrant, Rosado said. 

Willette’s vehicle was also seized. 

“We believe the firearms that are being manufactured are correlated to gun violence throughout the state,” Detective Lt. Shane Phillips said during a press conference on Friday. “We want to try to keep these guns off the street.”

Phillips said there is a basis of knowledge required to manufacture these types of guns. Parts are ordered online and then modified to make guns. Five of the guns seized in the raid had been modified to be fully functional machine guns, he said. 

Willette is a convicted felon, which prohibits him from possessing, owning, or selling any type of firearm as well as possessing body armor. Willette’s convictions include a 2015 case where he was sentenced to five years in prison for possession of narcotics with intent to sell. In 2019, he was convicted of third-degree assault. 

Willette faces numerous charges in Thursday’s raid, including possession of an assault weapon, illegally manufacturing firearms, criminal possession of a firearm, possession of high capacity magazines, possession of body armor by a convicted felon, illegal possession of a silencer and risk of injury to minor.

The arrest stems from a joint investigation by Meriden and Middletown police. Thursday’s raid was carried out by the Meriden SWAT team, Middletown Street Crimes Unit, Postal Task Force and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. 

“The environment we are in now requires cooperation across agencies,” City Manager Tim Coon said. “This is a prime example of the quality of Middletown and Meriden police department’s ability to work together and with multiple levels of government to solve a problem in our community.”

New Haven State’s Attorney John Doyle said illegal firearms are “a great concern” for his office.

Reporter Lauren Sellew can be reached at


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