Last October, federal authorities were monitoring an Instagram account when they found a short video, known as a “story,” depicting a man using a grinder power tool to obliterate the serial number of a semi-automatic pistol.
“On the 40, he said f— it,” the cameraman reportedly said on film, referring to the .40 caliber pistol in the video.
The video doesn’t depict the face of the man grinding off the gun’s serial number. But prosecutors believe they’ve identified the man in the video based on his tattoos, and have charged him with a federal offense that carries a maximum of 15 years behind bars.
Miguel Ochoa-Avalos, of Palo Alto, is facing federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Authorities searched his home last year and reportedly found a .40 caliber pistol with an obliterated serial number, commonly known as a “ghost gun,” along with nearly a quarter-pound of cocaine powder, according to the criminal complaint.
Police identified Ochoa-Avalos by comparing arm tattoos in the Instagram story to officer body-worn camera footage from a recent arrest in San Mateo County, according to the complaint. He had prior convictions for domestic violence in 2020 and for possessing an assault rifle in 2019 that prohibit him from owning firearms, according to court records.
Prosecutors tried — and failed — to convince a judge to jail Ochoa-Avalos, labeling him a danger to the community. Instead, he’s been released to a drug treatment facility in the Bay Area. The case is still in its early stages, and a Jan. 24 court status conference was postponed until Feb. 21, court records show.
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