Atlanta Journal Constitution:– Three men, including two from metro Atlanta, have pleaded guilty to smuggling at least 30 guns from the United States to Barbados.
Rashad Sargeant, 27, of College Park, pleaded guilty Thursday to unlawfully exporting firearms, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Kurt Erskine said in a news release.
Sargeant’s co-defendant, 31-year-old David Johnson of Belleville, Illinois, pleaded guilty more than a month earlier on July 22, Erskine said.
A third man who acted as a “straw purchaser” to buy guns from federally licensed firearms dealers, 28-year-old Shunquez Stephens of Flowery Branch, pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme June 21.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s case presented in court, Johnson would recruit gun buyers like Stephens to illegally purchase firearms with no intention of keeping the guns for themselves.
Sargeant and Johnson would take the guns, remove the serial numbers, then mail them to Barbados using fake identities. They shipped the guns hidden inside false compartments in boxes using common carriers like UPS, FedEx and DHL.
“Firearms illegally exported from the United States often end up in the wrong hands and are used to commit further criminal acts,” said Ariel Joshua Leinwand, a special agent of the Bureau of Industry and Security’s Office of Export Enforcement in Atlanta.
“Disrupting the flow of illegal guns inevitably saves lives and reduces overall crime, so I’m glad we were able to stop Sargeant’s scheme to illegally export guns to Barbados,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Katrina Berger said.
Stephens will be sentenced Sept. 22, followed by Johnson on Nov. 4 and Sargeant on Dec. 16, Erskine said.