Portland graffiti arrests reveal elaborate ghost gun operation

Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 3:54 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – The Portland Police Bureau says an investigation into two graffiti vandals uncovered a ghost gun operation.

Officers from the Central Precinct began investigating “chronic” graffiti offenders in Summer 2021. Two graffiti names PPB focused on were “THUJA” and “BIER,” found across downtown Portland and the Central Eastside Industrial District.

“I pretty quickly realized that we had a deterrence problem regarding graffiti,” Officer Nathan Kirby-Glatkowski said.

Investigators determined Shelaleh Rostami, 26, of Beaverton as “THUJA” and “LADY THUJA.” Police say a search warrant in January at her family home turned up 1,000 pieces of evidence.

“They were repeatedly tagging murals and that brought them pretty clearly to our attention. High visibility, high impact. You know, real consequences for everybody - the business owners that put those murals up, the artists that made those murals,” he said.

“BIER” was identified as Jacob Ramos, 43, of Portland, through evidence seized at the Rostami residence.

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A search of Ramos’ home in April identified him as “BIER.” PPB says Ramos is also a convicted felon and 17 illegaly possessed firearms and body armor were found at his home, one of which was a non-serialized AR-15 style rifle.

“We went in there for the purposes of getting evidence of the graffiti crimes but in plain view throughout the entire house was what in fact was a small ghost gun workshop,” he said.

Investigators say they also discovered a 3D printer, specialized jigs, power tools, raw components and scrap materials that were used to print several of the functioning, non-serialized, polymer and metal firearms.

“It’s very important to get them off the street because our city is experiencing a significant amount of gun crime, and these just add to the flow of illicit guns on the streets that wind up in the hands of criminals,” Kirby-Glatkowski, said.

Ramos was indicted for the following charges:

  • Manufacturing a Firearm (11 counts)
  • Felon in Possession of a Firearm
  • Possession of a Short barrel Rifle
  • Criminal Mischief in the First Degree (10 counts)
  • Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (50 counts)

Rostami was indicted for the following charges:

  • Criminal Mischief in the First Degree (16 counts)
  • Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (16 counts)

A spokesperson for PPB confirms Ramos has been arrested. Rostami is still at-large.

Authorities say the investigation is ongoing.