DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Illinois

For Immediate Release

Monday, April 19, 2021
John R. Lausch, Jr.
, United States Attorney

Source of Firearms for Chicago Gang Members Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison

CHICAGO — A man who trafficked firearms and re-sold them to Chicago gang members has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.

DAVID SANTIAGO, 39, sold firearms and narcotics out of his residence in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side.  Many of the guns were sold to individuals whom Santiago knew were members of Chicago street gangs.  During one sale that was surreptitiously recorded by an individual cooperating with law enforcement, the individual discussed how he intended to give a firearm to younger members of a gang, to which Santiago responded that he was going to provide one to the “guys” as well.

During the investigation law enforcement seized 16 firearms, including rifles and semi-automatic handguns, as well as more than 100 grams of heroin.  Santiago purportedly obtained many of the firearms in Kansas and boasted to the Chicago buyers that the guns were “clean” and “brand new.”

Santiago pleaded guilty last year to two counts of illegal possession of firearms.  Santiago had previously been convicted of multiple felonies, including four cases involving domestic violence, and was not lawfully allowed to possess a firearm.

U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr., imposed the 12-year sentence Thursday after a hearing in federal court in Chicago.

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Kristen deTineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; and David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.

“Santiago was running an illegal gun store from his bedroom,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Storino argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.  “The over-proliferation of firearms in this city and the easy access of firearms in the hands of persons who should not have them has a direct correlation to the cyclical gun violence epidemic in Chicago.”

Holding illegal firearm possessors accountable through federal prosecution is also a centerpiece of Project Guardian and Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategies.  In the Northern District of Illinois, U.S. Attorney Lausch and law enforcement partners have deployed the Guardian and PSN programs to attack a broad range of violent crime issues facing the district, particularly firearm offenses.


Chicago Field Division