3 Men Charged in Scheme to Purchase Firearms in Kentucky and Illegally Re-Sell Them in Chicago

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CHICAGO — Three men have been charged with federal firearms violations for scheming to purchase dozens of guns in Kentucky and illegally re-sell them in the Chicago area.

On several occasions in 2016 and 2017, Christopher Henderson and John L. Phillips purchased firearms from private sellers in Kentucky and brought them to the Chicago area, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in federal court in Chicago. The pair then worked with Jaiqail Wright to re-sell the guns to buyers in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, the charges allege. Many of the guns were recovered by law enforcement during criminal investigations, the complaint states. Authorities estimate that 80 to 90 firearms recovered by law enforcement in the Chicago area are associated with the defendants’ firearms trafficking.

All three defendants were arrested last week. The complaint charges Henderson, 23, of Louisville, Ky., Phillips, 23, of Hillside, and Wright, 23, of Chicago, with dealing firearms without a license. Phillips, who was previously convicted of a firearm-related felony, also faces a charge of illegal possession of a firearm by a felon. Detention hearings are scheduled for May 17, 2018, at 11:00 a.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez.

The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Celinez Nunez, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Valuable assistance was provided by the Louisville, Ky., ATF Field Division, Chicago Police Department, Illinois State Police, and the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

According to the charges, Henderson and Phillips bought the guns in Kentucky from individuals they met on Armslist.com, a website dedicated to the sale or trade of firearms and firearm-related items, such as ammunition and gun parts. Using various names and email addresses, the pair contacted sellers on the website and arranged to meet them in Kentucky, the complaint states. After the purchases, Phillips and Henderson transported the guns to the Chicago area, where they worked with Wright to re-sell them, the charges allege.

Wright allegedly acted as a broker, using Facebook and other means to advertise the weapons. In one transaction described in the complaint, Wright brokered a deal to sell six handguns to a documented gang member. The complaint also describes a purchase by Henderson of a .45-caliber pistol on or about Dec. 23, 2016. The gun was recovered by law enforcement less than three months later while investigating a vehicular hijacking in the western suburbs, the complaint states.

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