FBI, ATF search for Fort Smith gunsmith wanted for illegal explosives charge continues

A Fort Smith gunsmith wanted on an explosives charge remained at-large Monday morning.

Neil Ravi Mehta is wanted by federal agents on a charge of having an unregistered explosive device in his home, authorities reported Friday.

The home at 6999 Free Ferry Road in Fort Smith is seen Monday, Feb. 6, 2023 where vehicles were parked at the residence of Neil Mehta.
The home at 6999 Free Ferry Road in Fort Smith is seen Monday, Feb. 6, 2023 where vehicles were parked at the residence of Neil Mehta.

Mehta owns a company that makes weapons, and was ordered to pay overtime to employees in 2022 by the U.S. Department of Labor, court records show.

Mehta has ties to Pakistan and India, federal agents reported.

Mehta, 31, is sought by agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms office in New Orleans.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, law enforcement officers were seen at Mehta's home, 6999 Free Ferry Road, near Carol Ann Cross Park near South 74th Street and Free Ferry. He was not found at his home.

Mehta's whereabouts were unknown Monday.

"At this time, Mr. Mehta is stall at-large and wanted by the FBI and ATF," said Connor Hagan, FBI spokesman in Little Rock.

Details of what the explosive device was found in Mehta's home have not been released.

Law officers were conducting a "court-authorized law enforcement operation," Jan. 31 when they went to Mehta's home. Mehta was not found.

Civil lawsuit filed by U.S. Department of Labor

In a civil lawsuit settlement judgment filed by the U.S. Labor Department on Nov. 10, 2022, in the U.S. District Court For the Western District of Arkansas, Mehta is named as a defendant with Federal Armament LLC. Martin F. Walsh, Secretary of Labor is the plaintiff in the case.

The case alleges Mehta and Federal Armament violated the Fair Labor Act. Mehta is named as the "statuatory employer" of employees of Federal Armament. The settlement states the defendants had agreed to an entry of judgment without contest.

The settlement states that Mehta and Federal Armament were ordered not to employ anyone for more than 40 hours a week unless an employee receives compensation at a pay rate of one and one-half times the regular rate, the settlement states.

Mehta Case by USA TODAY Network on Scribd

The settlement states Mehta would keep records of wages and employees. The settlement states $135,000 for wages from March 25, 2016, to March 24, 2019, were due to employees of Mehta. Mehta was ordered to make the payments in December 2022, the court document states.

Hagan confirmed he court-authorized operation on Jan. 31, was connected to Federal Armament.

Attempts to reach an attorney listed for the defendant, Douglas Carson, were not immediately successful.

What is Federal Armament LLC.?

Federal Armament, according to their website, fedarm.com, states the company is a "manufacturer of defense products in the USA."

Customers, the website states, range from "Fortune 500 companies to military/government clients seeking volume contract manufacturing for products services."

Products listed include ammunition, AR-15 components, magazines, pistols, rifles, shotguns, reloading miscellaneous equipment, and other uncategorized items.

Federal Armament LLC. address is listed as 21 N. P Street in Fort Smith.

Meanwhile, authorities say Mehta has ties to eastern Oklahoma, Atlanta, Ga. Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and New York, New York in the United States. He also has ties to Pakistan and India.

The FBI reports Mehta should be considered armed and dangerous. Mehta is described as 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds.

Anyone who sees him should call the FBI at 1-800-225-5324 and follow the recorded instructions provided.

This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Fort Smith fugitive wanted by FBI, ATF remains at-large