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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Utah
Trina A. Higgins, United States Attorney
Contact: Felicia Martinez
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Unlicensed Gun and Marijuana Dealer Sentenced to 64 Months for Illegal Handling of Over 50 Firearms, Among Other Charges

Salt Lake City, Utah – A Roosevelt man was sentenced Monday to over five years imprisonment after pleading guilty to illegally purchasing and reselling firearms without a license, and multiple other drug related offenses stemming back to 2021.

According to court documents, Phillip Mahe Taufa, 41, engaged in the business of illegally dealing firearms between February 2021 through November 2021 in the District of Utah. In his plea statement, Taufa admitted he purchased over 50 firearms from federally licensed firearm dealers and individual sellers. He resold several of the firearms to individuals in California and Nevada, typically charging double the price. Taufa never possessed the required license to deal firearms. Taufa also made false statements to federally licensed firearm dealers in connection with the acquisition of the firearms. Additionally, on November 9, 2021, agents serving a search warrant at Taufa’s residence recovered 43 firearms, ammunition, over 10 pounds of marijuana, and THC cartridges. Taufa admitted he intended to distribute portions of the marijuana to others and told agents he smoked marijuana multiple times each day. He admitted to purchasing the marijuana from the dark web and received it via the U.S. mail. 

The court sentenced Taufa to 64 months in a federal prison followed by a term of supervised release of three years and ordered Taufa to pay a special assessment of $600.

“As a result of the outstanding work and dedication of our law enforcement partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office successfully prosecuted a case where guns and drugs were being unlawfully acquired and resold,” said U.S. Attorney Trina A. Higgins for the District of Utah. "These activities adversely impact communities, both in our district and in neighboring districts.” 
The case was investigated jointly by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), with assistance from the Roosevelt Police Department. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney, Victoria K. McFarland of the District of Utah prosecuted the case. 

This case was 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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