Chicago, Illinois -A 21-count superseding indictment unsealed Wednesday charges 12 individuals with conspiring to violate federal firearms statutes, including engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license; transporting and receiving firearms into another state; making false statements to a federally licensed firearm dealer; conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes and to use and carry firearms in relation to crimes of violence; and conspiring to commit money laundering, as well as other related substantive offenses.
“The Justice Department recognizes that fighting violent crime requires approaches tailored to the needs of individual communities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “But gun violence can be a problem that is too big for any one community, any one city, or any one agency to solve. That is why our approach to disrupting gun violence and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals rests on the kind of coordination you see here today.”
Wednesday morning, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), IRS-Criminal Investigation (CI) and officers from the Chicago Police Department and the Davenport, Iowa, Police Department began arresting those charged in the indictment. As of this morning, six of those charged are in custody and the remaining defendants are currently being sought by law enforcement.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois will handle the initial appearances by all defendants before they are transferred to the Middle District of Tennessee for further proceedings.
In July 2021, Demarcus Adams, 21; Jarius Brunson, 22; and Brandon Miller, 22, were enlisted members of the U.S. Army and stationed at the Fort Campbell military installation in Clarksville, Tennessee, and were charged by indictment with crimes stemming from the purchase and transfer of dozens of firearms to the streets of Chicago. In addition to these defendants, this superseding indictment charges the following nine individuals in the conspiracies and other substantive offenses: Blaise Smith, 29; Rahaeem Johnson, aka Rah, 24; Bryant Larkin, 33; Corey Curtis, 26; Elijah Tillman, 24; Lazarus Greenwood, aka Zarro, 23; Dwight Lowry, aka Ike, 41; Dreshion Parks, 25, all of Chicago; and Terrell Mitchell, 27, of Davenport, Iowa.
The indictment alleges that the new defendants are members of the Gangster Disciples street gang in the Pocket Town neighborhood of Chicago. Between December 2020 and April 2021, the defendants conspired to purchase and deliver over 90 illegally obtained firearms to the Chicago area to facilitate the ongoing violent disputes between the Pocket Town Gangster Disciples and their rival gangs.
The indictment further alleges the methods used by co-conspirators to purchase firearms from federally licensed firearms dealers in the Clarksville, Tennessee and Oak Grove, Kentucky areas, which included communicating via text messages to coordinate the purchase and delivery of firearms to the Chicago area; providing false information on firearms purchase application forms; and using online apps to facilitate payment for the illegal transfer of firearms. On one occasion, the indictment alleges that in addition to several firearms available for sale, Brandon Miller had 1,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition available for purchase.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison on one or more of the charged counts.
The announcement was made by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland; U.S. Attorney Mark H. Wildasin for the Middle District of Tennessee; U.S. Attorney John Lausch for the Northern District of Illinois; Special Agent in Charge Mickey French of the ATF Nashville Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Kristen de Tineo of the ATF Chicago Field Division; Karen Wingerd, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of IRS-CI, Charlotte Field Office; and Assistant Director Guy Surian for Investigations and Operations, U.S. Army - Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
This case is being investigated by the ATF-Nashville, Chicago, and Des Moines Divisions; the U.S. Army-CID; the IRS-CI - Charlotte and Chicago Field Offices; the Clarksville, Tenn. Police Department; the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Crime Gun Intelligence Center; and the Davenport, Iowa Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Josh Kurtzman and Kathryn Risinger are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.