DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia

For Immediate Release

Friday, October 25, 2019
G. Zachary Terwilliger
, United States Attorney
Contact: Joshua Stueve

Straw Purchaser Sentenced to Prison for Illegally Purchasing 20 Firearms

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Maryland man was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for making false statements to acquire firearms. 

According to court documents, between November 2018 and April 2019, Quayshawn Shymel Simmons, 29, of Baltimore, straw purchased 20 firearms from Federal Firearm Licensees in Virginia using a false address in Hampton and then transported the firearms to Washington, D.C. Officers with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C. recovered five of the firearms Simmons purchased from other individuals, including a felon, a prohibited person, and/or individuals in possession of large quantities of illegal narcotics. The other firearms have not been recovered.

“Simmons’ criminal conduct perfectly encapsulates the dangerous problem of illegally purchased firearms being trafficked from Virginia,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This prosecution is part of our increased effort to thwart firearms trafficking from Virginia into Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. It should send a strong message to those who would come into Virginia to illegally purchase firearms – Don’t lie and buy for the other guy. You will be prosecuted.”

“Those who buy firearms in Virginia just to turn around and sell them illegally in Washington, D.C., as Simmons did here, are not simply committing paperwork violations,” said Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division. “They are placing firearms directly in the hands of persons prohibited from possessing them, often violent criminals who pose a significant threat to the safety of our communities. ATF is fully committed to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to swiftly identify and shut down illegal firearms trafficking such as this that would otherwise fuel the Iron Pipeline.” 

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) 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 II and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Annie Zanobini 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-181.


Washington Field Division