For Immediate Release
Man Sentenced to Prison for Straw Purchasing 35 Firearms
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Maryland man was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for straw purchasing 35 firearms, including guns that were recovered by law enforcement after being used in violent crimes in Washington, D.C. and Maryland.
“Juan Zimmerman illegally straw-purchased 35 firearms, including guns that were used in a homicide and a domestic violence shooting,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Only six of the firearms have been recovered, and the whereabouts of the remaining 29 firearms are unknown. Zimmerman’s conduct in this case is the quintessential definition of firearms trafficking, and is precisely the type of criminal conduct we are pursuing with Project Guardian-DMV. I want to commend the tremendous work of our investigative partners at ATF for their outstanding efforts on this important case.”
According to court documents, Zimmerman, 26, used a fraudulently obtained Virginia identification card to purchase 35 firearms from various Federal Firearms Licensees throughout the Eastern District of Virginia between June and August 2018. After purchasing the firearms, Zimmerman transferred the firearms to others, including his cousin, who trafficked the firearms across state lines to Maryland and Washington, D.C. to other individuals. Four of the firearms Zimmerman illegally purchased have been recovered by law enforcement after being used in a number of violent crimes, including at least one homicide and one domestic violence shooting.
“This investigation demonstrates how individuals criminally abuse the process of purchasing firearms,” said Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division. “Anyone engaged in straw purchasing and trafficking firearms threatens the safety of our communities. ATF will continue to work tirelessly with our partners, both law enforcement and prosecutors, to ensure that these offenders are caught and held accountable.”
This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. Click here for more information about Project Guardian.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Ashan M. Benedict, 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 Jason Trigger 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 are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:19-cr-265.