Department of Justice
For Immediate Release
Las Vegas Man Charged with Selling Hundreds of Firearms Without a License
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A Las Vegas man who allegedly sold hundreds of firearms without a license, some of which were subsequently used in crimes, was charged in federal court today, announced U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson for the District of Nevada.
Sylvester Mitchell, 47, made his initial appearance in court before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen. He was charged by a federal criminal complaint with one count of dealing in firearms without a license. The charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison. A preliminary hearing is set for May 16, 2018.
As alleged in the criminal complaint that was unsealed today, Mitchell purchased approximately 438 firearms between January 2004 and November 2017. Of those firearms, approximately 42 were subsequently recovered and found to have been illegally possessed, used in a crime, or suspected to have been used in a crime. Those firearms were recovered in Southern California, Nevada, and Mexico. Two of the most recent recoveries were from homicide scenes in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the course of 2017, Mitchell purchased 199 firearms for a total cost of $58,942.
The complaint alleges that Mitchell, who did not have a license to sell firearms, placed several advertisements offering firearms for sale on Backpage.com. ATF records showed a pattern of Mitchell purchasing new firearms from Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) on a weekly basis and that he went to multiple FFLs on the same day. In some instances, he purchased firearms from FFLs and posted the firearms for sale on Backpage.com a few days or weeks later. It further alleges that between June 1, 2017 and September 14, 2017, law enforcement conducted multiple undercover firearms purchases from Mitchell based on his Backpage.com advertisements. Among the purchases was an AR-15 rifle.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that the defendant has committed a crime, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Burton is prosecuting the case.