Hickory man indicted for selling guns to felons, illegal immigrants

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John Jacob Morton (left) cropped beside sawed-off shotgun seized as evidence. (Photos courtesy: Yadkin County Sheriff's Office)

YADKIN COUNTY, N.C. — A Hickory man has been indicted on charges that he manufactured weapons of mass destruction and sold guns to convicted felons and illegal immigrants at a flea market in Yadkin County.

According to deputies with the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office, John Jacob Morton, 64, was indicted in June on charges including distributing firearms without a license, possessing and transporting a weapon of mass destruction, and manufacturing a weapon of mass destruction. 

The suspect, who had been released from jail on a $15,000 bond following his January arrest, was rearrested in Hickory on July 10, deputies said.  He was then taken to the U.S. Marshall’s Service office in Greensboro on July 11.

Authorities began investigating Morton in September 2011 under suspicion of of selling handguns, shotguns and rifles without a license at the Vintage Village Flea Market on Rocky Branch Road in Hamptonville, deputies said.

Deputies said Morton was arrested on Jan. 28 after undercover officers witnessed him sell handguns to convicted felons and illegal immigrants on multiple occasions.  In addition, the undercover officers purchased multiple “weapons of mass death and destruction” from the suspect, deputies said.

Morton did not keep any records of the guns he distributed, deputies said.

35 rifles, three handguns, two double-barrel sawed-off shotguns, multiple other shotguns, live ammunition, magazines, and gun accessories were among items seized when Morton was initially arrested, deputies said.

The U.S. ATF assisted in the investigation, deputies said.