INDIANAPOLIS – Federal authorities charged four people in connection with a scheme to steal guns and sell them in Indianapolis.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the operation involved intercepting gun shipments passing through a transit terminal in Indianapolis. The individuals then provided those guns to other people for distribution and sale.
At the center of the scheme was Bruce A. Williams, who worked for a shipping company and conspired with other employees and two other individuals—Zackary Doss and Kevin Jones Jr.—to obtain and distribute the firearms, federal authorities said.
The operation involved at least 200 guns. The firearms, sent by a manufacturer, were passing through Indianapolis and on their way to a federally licensed gun dealer.
The transit company is on south Tibbs. Prosecutors say the thefts began in March 2022.
“Some of these criminals apparently viewed [the shipments] as a soft target,” said U.S District Attorney Zachary Myers, “and an opportunity to steal guns that they otherwise couldn’t possess in order to make a profit along the way.”
Williams, Doss and Jones face federal charges, including conspiracy to receive, possess, store or sell stolen firearms. Williams and Doss are also charged with possession of firearms by a felon, while Jones is charged with possession or sale of a stolen firearm.
A fourth individual, identified as Ryan Hurt, is accused of being in possession of some of the stolen guns.
Jones remains at large, while the other suspects are in custody.
During a news conference Friday, authorities said stolen guns tend to turn up at crime scenes, especially in Indianapolis and Chicago.
“When you steal firearms and you put them in the hands of people who don’t have any business having them, they’re not holding them for personal protection,” Myers said. “These are criminals who are looking to be armed to engage in violent crime.”
United States attorney Myers claims Bruce Williams II would identify shipments of guns coming into Indy and then steal those weapons.
Court records claim those guns would then be sold to Kevin Jones Jr. and Zachary Doss, who in turn illegally sold the guns to other buyers.
While Jones Jr. has not yet been taken into custody, this week police served a federal search warrant at an apartment complex and arrested a fourth suspect, Ryan Hurt, who was found with two of the stolen weapons.
“We believe that the recent enforcement actions have disrupted a significant source of illegal firearms from continuing to flow into the hands of criminals here in Indiana and beyond,” said John Nokes, assistant special agent in charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Doss coordinated the purchase of guns and consulted with Jones to decide which makes and models they wanted to buy, and how much they would pay. After obtaining the guns, they turned around and sold them to other individuals, investigators said.
“Over the course of months, these stolen guns disappeared from the stream of commerce and were pumped into our communities and into the hands of people who had no business having them,” Myers said.
Williams, who had been previously convicted of multiple felonies, was not legally permitted to possess a firearm. Doss, also convicted of a prior felony, was also prohibited from having a gun.
Myers said the investigation was ongoing. Some of the individuals face up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted.
So far police have only recovered 33 of the stolen guns, while over 160 guns remain missing to this day.
“Gun violence is ravaging our communities,” said Myers. “We’re working as hard as we can to stop that and to get the flow of guns out of the hands of criminals.”
Because a common factor in so many deadly shootings is the illegal possession of firearms, prosecuting stolen weapons cases remains a priority to try and prevent violence.
“If you are a prohibited person and continue to put firearms in our community, we will come together to try to apprehend you,” said IMPD deputy chief Kendale Adams.
Because a vast majority of the stolen weapons are still on the streets, anyone who thinks they may have purchased one of those firearms without knowing it was stolen can still contact either the ATF or Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.
Jesse Wells contributed to this report.