For Immediate Release
10 People Indicted in Scheme to “Straw Purchase” Firearms
40 Firearms Illegally Purchased
DETROIT – Ten individuals have been indicted on charges involving the alleged straw purchasing of firearms, announced Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin. The indictment is part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative aimed at reducing gun violence.
Mohsin was joined in the announcement by Acting Special Agent in Charge Keith Krolczyk, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is a comprehensive approach to combating gun violence by bringing together local, state and federal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and community leaders to implement a multi-faceted strategy to deter and punish gun violence from all sides. PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders as well as those who seek to circumvent gun laws put in place to protect the public, otherwise known as “straw purchasers”.
A “straw purchase” is an illegal firearm purchase where the actual buyer of the gun, being unable to pass the required federal background check or desiring to not have his or her name associated with the transaction, uses another person who can pass the required background check to purchase the firearm for him/her. Those who purchase firearms in this illegal manner are subject to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Charged today were:
- Chauncey Williams, 21, Detroit, MI
- Mike Chahoua, 23, Sterling Heights, MI
- Antonio Jackson, 22, Detroit, MI
- Bishop Allen, 24, Detroit, MI
- Garcia Moses, 24, currently residing in Florida
- Donte Turner, 26, Detroit, MI
- Reginald Small, 23, Detroit, MI
- Eshon Rose, 22, Detroit, MI
- James Jackson, 23, Detroit, MI
- Emmanuel Stevens, 21, Detroit, MI
As alleged in the indictment, beginning in November 2020 and continuing through March 2021, defendants Chauncey Williams, Michael Chahoua and Antonio Jackson used stolen credit card information to purchase firearms from online retailers and enlisted seven straw purchasers to retrieve the firearms in-person from a local federal firearms licensee in exchange for compensation. The straw purchasers allegedly made false statements stating that they were the actual purchaser of the firearms. Once in receipt of the illegally obtained firearms, Williams, Chahoua and Jackson either personally possessed and used the firearms or resold the firearms for profit. In total, at least 40 firearms were illegally obtained through this scheme. At least three of the firearms were recovered from convicted felons.
Six of the ten defendants have been arrested and will be appearing in federal court this afternoon for their arraignment.
“When you buy a gun for someone who is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm, you could be buying yourself 10 years in federal prison,” said Acting US Attorney Mohsin. “The surge of gun violence in our cities is being fueled by individuals who circumvent the law and supply firearms to felons and trigger-pullers. These cases should send a message to those thinking about straw purchasing firearms – you will be subject to federal prosecution.”
“Straw purchasing is not a victimless crime. The act of knowingly enabling a prohibited person to purchase a firearm puts firearms in the hands of criminal organizations and violent criminals presenting a grave threat to the safety of our communities,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Keith Krolczyk.
The United States Attorney’s Office and the ATF are focused on prosecuting those individuals who are putting guns in the hands of criminals only to be used in an untold number of violent crimes. This indictment is the latest in a string of charges brought during the last year involving the straw purchase of firearms. In the last year, the USAO has obtained 13 indictments, charging 25 different individuals for their involvement in straw purchases of more than 74 firearms. Some of those firearms were involved in shootings or found in the hands of felons. Some of those cases include:
On August 18, 2021, two individuals were indicted for making straw purchases of at least 10 firearms during a one-month period. Two of those firearms were later recovered by law enforcement at crime scenes in the City of Detroit.
On March 3, 2021, three individuals were indicted for their involvement in selling five firearms to an undercover agent between December 2020 and January 2021. Agents then conducted NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) testing on the firearms and two of the guns sold to the undercover agent were traced to prior shootings into homes in Detroit from the fall of 2020.
Also indicted on March 3, 2021 was Danny Jo Thompson, II. Thompson acted as a straw purchaser for a person he knew to be a convicted felon. Specifically, Thompson purchased two AR-15 lower receivers (classified as a firearm under federal law) and worked with the convicted felon to convert two semi-automatic AR-style rifles into fully functioning machine guns. The machine gun possessed by the convicted felon was later found in the felon’s truck at the scene of a shootout with law enforcement.
These charges are just some of the tangible results of this joint effort. The United States Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to work together to reduce gun violence in our communities.
An indictment is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.