CHICAGO ― More than 100 assorted pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns have been seized and 14 Chicago area defendants are facing federal firearms charges as a result of an investigation that ended yesterday and was led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ATF agents, together with Chicago police and other state and local law enforcement partners, executed arrest and search warrants yesterday and seized 17 firearms from a residence in Gary, Ind. The investigation, which began in January, relied in part on three confidential informants, including one who posed as a broker for an individual who sold firearms overseas.
Nine defendants were arrested yesterday while three others were already in state custody.Nine separate criminal complaints were unsealed charging 12 defendants with being felons-inpossession of firearms, one with dealing firearms without a federal license, and one with illegal possession of a machine gun with an obliterated serial number. Those arrested yesterday remain in federal custody pending detention hearings, which Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole scheduled for Thursday and Friday in U.S. District Court.
This investigation is the culmination of ATF’s 2014 Firearms Trafficking and Violent Crime Strategy, also known as the “Chicago Initiative,” a four-month mission involving concentrated resources and efforts to attack violent crime associated with illegal firearms and narcotics. During the broader initiative, and including yesterday’s developments, ATF agents arrested 90 state and federal defendants, executed 25 search warrants, and seized more than 270 firearms, as well as seized more than four kilograms of marijuana, more than a kilogram of heroin, and nearly a kilogram each of powder cocaine and crack cocaine.
“This investigation, coupled with our enhanced efforts over the last four months, makes a difference by reducing the potential for violence that is associated with the illegal possession and sale of firearms,” said Carl J. Vasilko, Special Agent-in-Charge of ATF’s Chicago Field Division.
“Every gun we take out of the hands of individuals who allegedly possess and sell them illegally helps reduce the risk of violent crimes occurring with those weapons,” said Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said: “You have heard me say it repeatedly and I will say it again, we have too many illegal guns flooding our streets. But every little bit helps, and certainly this mission and confiscating as many weapons as we did will keep our communities safer.”
The Illinois State Police, the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, the Lake County, Ind., Sheriff’s Department, and task force officers from the Indiana State Police, and the Gary, Ind., Police Department also assisted in the investigation.
According to the complaints, in March of this year, one of the confidential informants (CI-3) identified an individual known as “Batman,” who agents later identified as JOHN THOMAS, as one of CI-3’s sources of illegally obtained firearms. CI-3 and Thomas had previously agreed that CI-3 would pay Thomas approximately $100 for every handgun and $150 for every long gun purchase that Thomas arranged for CI-3. Thomas allegedly arranged firearms transactions between CI-3 and other defendants, including ANTHONY LOGAN, who in turn allegedly arranged additional firearms transactions between CI-3 and other defendants. CI-3 also allegedly purchased firearms directly from STEVE THOMAS and WESLEY PICKETT. During these controlled purchases with the defendants, CI-3 posed as a firearms broker for an individual who sold firearms overseas. The complaint affidavits together detail 45 firearms that CI-3 purchased during the investigation. All of those guns were among a total of 108 firearms that were purchased or seized during the investigation.
Details of the nine complaints follow:
JOHN THOMAS, aka “Batman,” 38, and DANIEL BINGMON, aka “Tiny,” 36, both of Chicago, were each charged with being a felon-in-possession of a 20-gauge shotgun. At the direction of ATF agents, CI-3 allegedly purchased a total of five firearms from Thomas and Bingmon on April 30 and May 8;
ANTHONY LOGAN, aka “Snake,” 29, of Chicago, was charged with being a felon-inpossession, and DANIEL JONES, 23, of Chicago, was charged with selling firearms without a federal license. Between April 10 and June 27, CI-3 allegedly purchased a total of 17 firearms, including six handguns and 11 long guns, from Logan and Jones;
LARRY McINTOSH, aka “Ten,” 38, of Gary, Ind., and CHARLES HAWKINS, 31, of Richton Park, were charged with being a felon-in-possession of various firearms. Between June 2 and July 2, McIntosh allegedly possessed nine firearms that he sold to CI-3, and Hawkins allegedly possessed three of those firearms that he delivered to CI-3 on McIntosh’s behalf;
TYRECE McCLINTON, 24, and RODEARL McELROY, 21, both of Chicago, were each charged with being a felon-in-possession of a firearm. McClinton, McElroy, and John Thomas allegedly sold a .38 caliber pistol to CI-3 on May 13;
TRAISON WATSON, 22, of Country Club Hills, was charged with illegally possessing and transferring a machine gun with an obliterated serial number. CI-3 allegedly purchased two firearms, including the machine gun and a 7.62 caliber rifle, from Watson and John Thomas on May 16. The machine gun had been modified from its original configuration as a 9 mm pistol making it capable of firing more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger, according to the complaint affidavit;
STEPHEN CARLOS, aka “Steve-O,” 26, of Chicago, was charged with being a felon-inpossession of a 12-gauge shotgun. CI-3 allegedly purchased a gun from Carlos and Logan on April 30, and two firearms from Carlos, Logan, and Jones on June 4;
STEVE THOMAS, 38, of Chicago, was charged with being a felon-in-possession of a firearm. Steve Thomas allegedly sold CI-3 four firearms between May 19 and July 8;
WESLEY PICKETT, 25, of Dolton, was charged with being a felon-in-possession of a irearm. Pickett allegedly sold CI-3 four firearms between March 20 and July 1; and
KENNETH SMITH, 30, and RICO SMITH, 38, both of Chicago, were each charged with being a felon-in-possession of a firearm. Both Smiths and Logan allegedly sold a .40 caliber pistol to CI-3 on May 20.
Being a felon-in-possession of a firearm carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Dealing firearms without a federal license carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and illegal possession of a machine gun with an obliterated serial number carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole Kim and Lela Johnson.
Criminal complaints are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.