Chicago crime: Army soldiers among those charged in alleged large scale gun-running scheme

The soldiers allegedly purchased nearly 100 firearms from local gun dealers near the Army's Fort Campbell installation and sold them to Chicago gang members

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Twelve people, including three serving in the Army, supplied nearly 100 firearms to a notorious Chicago street gang in a large-scale gun-running scheme that led to two killings, the Justice Department said Friday. 

The soldiers-- identified as Demarcus Adams, 21; Jarius Brunson and Brandon Miller, both 22, were stationed at Fort Campbell alongside the Kentucky-Tennessee border, according to a 21-count indictment. They were charged in July 2021.

They allegedly violated federal firearms laws by purchasing firearms from local gun dealers in Kentucky and Tennessee and selling them to members of the Gangster Disciples street gang in the Pocket Town neighborhood of Chicago.

They face up to 20 years in prison. 

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The Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington is photographed early in the morning. Twelve people, including three U.S. Army soldiers, are accused in a large-scale gun trafficking ring that prosecutors allege supplied nearly 100 guns to gang members in Chicago.

The Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington is photographed early in the morning. Twelve people, including three U.S. Army soldiers, are accused in a large-scale gun trafficking ring that prosecutors allege supplied nearly 100 guns to gang members in Chicago. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

"The Justice Department will spare no resources to hold accountable criminal gun traffickers," Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference Friday in Chicago. "There is no hiding place for those who flood our communities with illegal guns. It does not matter where you are, or how far away you are. If you illegally traffic guns, we and our law enforcement partners nationwide will find you."

Officials at Fort Campbell declined to comment to Fox News on the matter.  

The nine defendants were recently charged in the indictment are: Blaise Smith, 29; Rahaeem Johnson, 24; Bryant Larkin, 33; Corey Curtis, 26; Elijah Tillman, 24; Lazarus Greenwood, 23; Dwight Lowry, 41; and Dreshion Parks, 25, all of Chicago; along with Terrell Mitchell, 27, of Davenport, Iowa. 

Between December 2020 and April 2021, the nine gang members bought and delivered more than 90 illegally obtained firearms to Chicago to use in ongoing disputes with rival gangs, the Justice Department said. 

Federal prosecutors said Miller received orders from the gang for specific guns to purchase. Miller, Brunson and Adams would make the purchases from dealers in Clarksville, Tennessee and Oak Grove, Kentucky and then give them to the gang members. 

They allegedly provided false information on purchase application forms. They also communicated via text message to coordinate the purchase and delivery of the weapons, prosecutors said.

In one exchange on Dec. 10, 2020, Miller messaged Lowry about two firearms pictured that he was allegedly selling for $550.

"Ok can you get them to hold it until Friday? I gotta get my bread up," Lowry wrote, according to the indictment. 

Miller allegedly replied: "Yeah I'll buy em and hold em for u g."

Payments for the firearms were made through apps, including Zelle and CashApp, prosecutors said. At one point, Miller allegedly advertised that he had 1,000 rounds of ammunition for sale. 

Investigators believe one of the weapons sold to the gang was used in a shooting that left a man dead and seven others wounded at a Chicago party last March and another was used in a January 2021 barbershop killing

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The case is part of the Justice Department’s push to investigate and prosecute gun trafficking amid rising crime across the country. Last year, the DOJ launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to disrupt illegal gun trafficking. 

Chicago officials and leaders in other cities like New York and Baltimore, Maryland have long complained about the flow of legally purchased guns in other states, sometimes hundreds of miles away, linked to crimes in their jurisdictions, where gun laws are much tighter. 

In July 2021, Chicago formed a Gun Investigations Team to investigate illegal gun sellers and straw purchasers – someone who buys a gun for someone else who is unable or unwilling to make the purchase themselves -- and trace firearms recovered from crimes. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.