Two Atlanta residents accused of international firearms trade
They smuggled guns to criminal groups overseas, using darknet markets. The investigation is still going on.
Two metro-Atlanta men allegedly smuggled illegal firearms internationally through darknet markets. Now, they are facing federal charges.
These men are William Jackson (29 years old, of East Point, Ga.) and Gerren Johnson (28 years old, of Austell, Ga.). Authorities suspect that they used the underground part of the Internet to smuggle weapons to customers from over a dozen foreign states.
U.S. Attorney John Horn says that Jackson and Johnson misused the anonymity of the Internet. The defendants violated federal firearms laws many times.
How Did It All Start
The above-mentioned individuals were known on the dark web as WorldWide Arms and CherryFlavor, respectively. These two users were active on the darknet website called Blackmarket Reloaded (BMR). According to the court records, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and other agencies started to investigate the alleged firearms trafficking scheme on that market in June 2013. The defendants were accused of posting guns for sale and sending them to buyers outside the US.
To ship the orders to Australia, Canada and the UK, the vendors hid them inside electronic devices. Initially, they legally bought the firearms through the OutDoorTraders website — but they had no right to resell these items to third parties or export them. Apart from the BMR, the offenders searched for potential clients on some other dark web projects, such as Agora Market and Utopia.
Wayne Dixie, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF field division, commented on this case. He said that the market for illegal firearms is thriving on a global scale. The constant demand for guns comes from organized criminal groups who need them for their daily illicit activities.
How Did the Investigation Unfold
The authorities carried out multiple interviews with suspects and witnesses. They used federal search warrants to trace the arms. Finally, the law enforcement representatives found out how the guns traveled from their original owners in the Atlanta area to Jackson and Johnson.
Authorities managed to uncover shipping details for over 50 suspected parcels. They shared their knowledge with their Austrian, Australian, Belgian, British, Canadian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Irish and Swedish colleagues.
But that was not the end. It turned out that Jackson and Johnson relied on a network of accomplices. Brendan Person and Sherman Jackson from Atlanta were identified and arrested. Probably, the police will be able to bring to justice other members of the CherryFlavor group soon.