For Immediate Release
Firearms Traffickers Sentenced to Prison for Straw Purchase Scheme
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Two Maryland residents were sentenced to a combined 13 years in prison today for their respective roles in a firearms straw purchasing and trafficking scheme.
“Haddock is exactly the type of individual who poses a serious danger to the safety of our communities and the law enforcement officers who protect us,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Haddock’s criminal history includes first-degree assault for shooting a woman in the leg at a playground in an attempt to rob her, conspiracy to rob a bank, and he committed this straw purchasing scheme while on probation. Along with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we are committed to removing violent individuals like Haddock from our communities.”
According to court documents, between Dec. 3, 2017 and Jan. 6, 2018, Keith Haddock II, 26, Brittany Blanken, 25, and their co-conspirators illegally purchased 29 firearms during 11 separate transactions from federal firearms licensees at gun shows and gun stores in Virginia, using thousands of dollars of cash provided by Haddock. The straw purchasers immediately provided the firearms to Haddock, who, along with Blanken, transported the firearms into Washington, D.C. and Maryland and resold the firearms to other individuals. Haddock was unable to purchase the firearms himself or possess the firearms because he was previously convicted of two violent felonies in Montgomery County, Maryland.
“Firearm trafficking fuels violent gun crime in America,” said Thomas L. Chittum III, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Washington Field Division. “Straw purchases are not simply paperwork violations—they put guns in the hands of serious criminals that terrorize communities across the country. This case perfectly highlights that danger: 29 straw purchased firearms were delivered into the hands of a violent felon before making their way to the streets of D.C. and Maryland, where they will be used in an untold number of violent crimes.”
Haddock was sentenced to 10 years in prison, while Blanken was sentenced to 3 years. At sentencing, the Court applied sentencing enhancements for the number of firearms involved and because Haddock and Blanken trafficked the firearms. Indeed, law enforcement in Maryland and Washington, D.C. have recovered approximately a dozen of the firearms unlawfully purchased during the scheme at crime scenes or in the unlawful possession of others. The other firearms involved have not been recovered.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of a renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Thomas L. Chittum III, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas U. Murphy and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Williamson prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-236.