A 25-year-old Marine veteran faces up to five years in prison if convicted on federal firearms charges after officials said he tried to enter the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, New Jersey, with multiple firearms, including an illegally modified to fully automatic AK-47.
Dustin Aaron Peters has a bail hearing set in federal court on Friday in Camden, New Jersey, on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm in a federal facility and unlawful interstate transport of a machine gun, according to a Department of Justice release.
Peters had traveled from North Carolina to New Jersey to attend his wife’s Coast Guard recruit training graduation on Jan. 9.
Despite posted warning signs near the entrance to the facility that firearms were prohibited, Peters tried to enter the facility.
His vehicle was searched and security officials found a modified, fully automatic AK-47 rifle, loaded 9 mm handgun, multiple large capacity magazines, ammunition, a ballistic vest, gas mask and canister, nylon chest rig and other items.
“Peters acknowledged that he did not listen, stating that he knew it was possible that he may be stopped, but was not expecting that to actually happen,” according to court documents.
Peters told police that he had purchased the AK-47 in Virginia but modified it himself to fire fully automatic.
Marine Corps manpower officials confirmed that Peters served in the Corps from June 2012 to June 2017, reaching the rank of corporal. He held the military occupational specialties of 0311 rifleman and 8152 Marine Corps security force guard.
Peters deployed to Guantanamo Bay from April 2013 to July 2013, to Bahrain from November 2013 to June 2014 and was assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit from October 2015 to April 2016. His last assigned unit before leaving service was with Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to officials.
The firearms possession on a federal facility carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The unlawful interstate transport of a machine gun carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Peters was being held in the Cape May County Correctional Facility in New Jersey with no bond, according to jail records.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.