Authorities dismantled a fourteen people gun-trafficking organization in Pennsylvania. They were charged for illegally obtaining and reselling 31 firearms during straw purchase schemes in a five-county area.
According to Delco Times, the organization operated in Montgomery, Bucks, Berks, Lancaster and Philadelphia counties.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said on Wednesday that straw purchases are a big issue in the area. “This is one of the huge growing problems that we are facing in Southeastern Pennsylvania. It’s a problem because it puts guns in the hands of people that are not allowed by law to buy their own guns. That’s a straw purchase. It’s illegal and it’s dangerous.”
The gun-trafficking network, which operated in Montgomery, Berks, Bucks, Lancaster and Philadelphia counties, also dealt in the sale of so-called “ghost guns,” authorities alleged.
A straw purchase occurs when a person with a clean background purchases firearms on behalf of another person to conceal the true ownership of the firearm. Those who are unable to legally purchase firearms include convicted felons, domestic violence offenders, juveniles and mentally ill individuals.
A significant threat
“Straw purchases and the sale of those guns to people who cannot buy their own firearm legally are dangerous to the safety of all of our communities, and ‘ghost guns’ are just as dangerous, if not more. Gun-trafficking is a significant threat to public safety and should concern every law-abiding citizen,” Steele said.
With the charges, authorities alleged Quinn O’Donnell Whisted, 22, purchased 17 firearms; Maliqa Deja Jack, 25, purchased seven firearms; Makayla Prince, 22, purchased four firearms; and Deborah Chappell, 61 who purchased one firearm.
Those firearms, authorities alleged, were purchased on behalf of the gun trafficking organization led by Alexander Aaron Smith, 20, Daveese Smith, 22 and Tony Pearson, 40.
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Also charged in connection with the alleged gun-trafficking organization were: Taye Maurice Wynder, 20,; Daeshaun Wynder, 22, and Jerome Wynder, 24, Tymir Kaseim Allen, 22, Joseph Zummo, 26 Kristen Leigh Owens, 24 and Talani Janelle Ewell, 20.
The defendants, who are awaiting preliminary hearings, face various charges including corrupt organizations and conspiracy. Other charges filed against some of the defendants include dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, unlawful transfer of a firearm, criminal use of communications facilities and false statements.