INDIANAPOLIS — The US Department of Justice is cracking down on illegal gun sales across five major metropolitan areas including Chicago. A multiple jurisdictional strike force recently indicted six Hoosiers for purchasing guns and knowingly selling them to people who can’t legally obtain them.
The suspects were charged with multiple counts including making false statements during their purchase. Authorities believe the six people purchased more than 90 guns since last November. More than 20 have been traced back to crimes in Chicago.
“In trafficking schemes, people will purchase often several firearms, and then get them to the place where they are able to resell them,” explained Suzanne Dabkowski, public information officer with the ATF Columbus Field Division. “When you have areas with more restrictive firearms laws, and areas that are less restrictive, the guns flow from less restrictive to more restrictive.”
In one of the indictments, Tashia Overton, 21, from Indianapolis is believed to have bought 31 guns in 25 days. Six were recovered in Chicago area crimes, including a mass shooting.
When a gun owner knowingly sells a gun to someone who can’t legally buy one it is called a straw purchase. The ATF is only alerted to multiple gun sales if it involves handguns that are purchased at the same store within a short period of time.
“What that system doesn’t do is if ‘Mr. Smith’ buys one handgun here, and then drives up the road and buys another handgun, then drives up the road and buys another handgun, the system does not pin that together,” explained Greg Burge, owner of Beech Grove Firearms. “Instead of putting more regulation upon myself and legal gun owners, how about we prosecute the criminals that try the system, instead of making excuses for them.”
The ATF says straw purchase sellers often know and exploit these loopholes. So far in 2021, 14 Hoosiers have been arrested for straw purchase sales in the Southern District of Indiana. These recent indictments can lead to a punishment of up to 10 years in prison. In addition to Overton, the other thirteen indictments are as follows:
Eric Keys Jr., 23 of Indianapolis
Jordan Henry, 22, Indianapolis
Jayte Davis, 22, Indianapolis
Kwamay Armstrong, 29, Indianapolis
Charles Hunter, 22, Indianapolis
Edward Wilson, 22, Indianapolis
Traven Armstrong, 22, Indianapolis
Victor Anderson, 24, Indianapolis
Ernisha Collins, 30, Indianapolis
Kelvin Henderson, 21, Indianapolis
Ryanne Godfrey, 38, Indianapolis
Sierra Vasquez, 25, Indianapolis
Latasha Davis, 28, Indianapolis
The ATF admits they may not know these crimes are happening until a gun is used in another crime. It is then traced back to the legal sale at a gun shop.
“Not uncommon for us to get a call or email that we got 17 traces,” said Burge of his shop.
It can take Burge and his team fifteen to twenty minutes to complete one trace. He says he usually has to have the information back to ATF within 24 hours.