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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Central District of Illinois
Gregory K. Harris, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, January 5, 2024

20-Year-Old Peoria Man Sentenced to 41 Months in Prison for Possession of a Machinegun

PEORIA, Ill. — A Peoria man, Tajurie Amir Bennett, 20, was sentenced on Jan. 4 to 41 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for possession of a machinegun. He was also ordered to forfeit all of the firearms and ammunition involved, including a 9mm “ghost gun” pistol with no serial number.

At the sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid, the government established that on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2023, at approximately 2:30 p.m., Bennett, along with another person, committed a drive-by shooting of a residence located on West Gift Avenue in Peoria. A ShotSpotter gun detection system alert identified 15 rounds of fully automatic gunfire. Police responded to the scene and located gunfire damage on the front of a house and on a gas utility line of a separate residence nearby, along with bullet holes on a car on the adjacent street.

Peoria Police were able to locate the suspect vehicle and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. The vehicle, then occupied only by Bennett, fled from marked squad cars, driving at times into oncoming traffic at a high rate of speed. Police officers in covert vehicles maintained surveillance on Bennet’s vehicle as it traveled through Peoria at high speed. When his car came to a stop at a red light at the intersection of War Memorial Drive and Allen Road, officers in covert vehicles boxed in the vehicle from all sides. Bennett rammed his vehicle into police vehicles, nearly striking an officer attempting to conduct an arrest. After police extricated Bennett from the car, officers located a loaded 9mm “ghost gun” on the floorboard. The pistol was loaded and equipped with a high-capacity extended ammunition magazine. The gun was further equipped with an auto-sear, commonly referred to as a “switch”. The switch enabled the pistol to fire as a fully automatic machinegun.

A federal criminal complaint was filed against Bennett in February 2023, followed by a one-count indictment in March 2023. Bennett entered a guilty plea with no plea agreement in June 2023. He has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest.

The statutory penalties for possession of a machinegun are up to 10 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by up to three years of supervised release.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Peoria Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Hanna represented the government in the prosecution.

The case against Bennett 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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.


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