A Virginia gang member took advantage of his once-clean criminal record to illegally buy guns for his cohorts in a straw-purchase scheme that law enforcement busted up recently.
The 24-year-old gang member was sentenced June 10 to four years in prison after he was found guilty of acting as a middleman so his fellow Crips street gang members could use guns he bought to carry out criminal activities, including gang-related shootouts.
“This individual illegally obtained firearms to commit further, potentially violent, criminal activity with fellow Crip gang members,” said Michael K. Lamonea, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Norfolk. “There’s a reason straw-purchasing is not permitted, and that’s because weapons end up in the hands of dangerous criminals.”
The gun buyer was a member of the 00 Gang, a subset of the Crips violent street gang. He was convicted for his role as the point man in a Franklin, Va.-based conspiracy involving the 00 Gang. The Crips gang, founded in Los Angeles, is based in Southern California.
He bought at least seven firearms and gave them to his associates, who were barred from buying guns themselves because they had felony convictions. Three firearms recovered by police during investigations of other crimes were traced back to buyer. One of the recovered guns was found by police in Washington, D.C., only 10 days after it had been sold to the straw-purchase buyer.
Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said the prosecution shows the federal government’s commitment to stop the flow of illegally purchased firearms.
“Straw-purchasing firearms is a very serious offense,” Terwilliger said in a release from the Department of Justice (DOJ). “Those who choose to straw purchase firearms will be investigated, prosecuted and held accountable for their dangerous conduct.”
The case was conducted under the umbrella of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a cornerstone of the DOJ’s efforts to reduce the incidence of violent crime. PSN allows representatives from multiple jurisdictions to work in a collaborative effort to reduce crime.
Franklin was once considered a quiet town that was far enough away from Norfolk to avoid many of the problems that plague the more densely populated area take a hit after gang wars in the town made the news in 2011.