A 21-count superseding indictment unsealed Wednesday charges 12 people with conspiracy to violate federal gun laws, including engaging in the trade in firearms without a license; transporting and receiving firearms in another state; make false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer; conspiracy to possess firearms in the prosecution of drug trafficking crimes and to use and carry firearms in connection with crimes of violence; and conspiracy to commit money laundering, as well as other related substantive offences.
“The Department of Justice recognizes that addressing violent crime requires approaches tailored to the needs of each community,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said. “But gun violence can be too big a problem to be solved by one community, one city, or one agency. That’s why our approach to disrupting gun violence and keeping guns away from criminals relies on the kind of coordination you see here today.
On Wednesday morning, officers 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 accused in the ‘indictment. As of this morning, six of the accused are in custody and the other accused are currently wanted by law enforcement.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois will handle initial appearances for 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 United States Army and stationed at the Fort Campbell military installation in Clarksville, Tennessee, and were charged by indictment with crimes resulting from the purchase and transfer dozens of guns on the streets of Chicago. In addition to those defendants, this replacement indictment charges the following nine people with 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 the new defendants are members of the Gangster Disciples street gang in Chicago’s Pocket Town neighborhood. Between December 2020 and April 2021, the defendants conspired to purchase and deliver more than 90 illegally obtained firearms to the Chicago area to facilitate the ongoing violent conflicts between the Pocket Town Gangster Disciples and their rival gangs.
The indictment further alleges the methods used by the co-conspirators to purchase firearms from federally licensed gun dealers in the Clarksville, Tennessee and Oak Grove, Kentucky areas, which included SMS communication to coordinate the purchase and delivery of firearms in the Chicago area; providing false information on firearm purchase application forms; and the use of online applications 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 9mm rounds available for purchase.
If found guilty, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison on one or more of the counts.
The announcement was made by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland; US Attorney Mark H. Wildasin for the Central 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 Guy Surian Deputy Director for Investigations and Operations, US Army – Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
This matter is being investigated by the ATF-Nashville, Chicago and Des Moines divisions; the US Army CID; the IRS-CI – Charlotte and Chicago Field Offices; the Clarksville, Tennessee, 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 just an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.