Fredrick Norman —known as "Slowkey Fred"— is accused of running the ring that’s purchased hundreds of firearms from federally licensed firearm dealers across Georgia since 2020. The group then conspired to sell them without a license and transport them across state lines to Philadelphia, where federal authorities say the guns started showing up at crime scenes or in the possession of convicted felons.
Eric Degree, the assistant special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) office in Philadelphia, explained that although charges related to straw purchasing rings can look administrative, as they accuse defendants of lying on forms or selling without a license, they aim to keep guns out of the hands of violent felons who typically don’t want to leave a paper trail.
"We know that these guns are being used in crimes," Degree told NBC News. "I’m sure we have not recovered them all. There’s still firearms purchased by these individuals that are most likely still on the street."
Philadelphia remains plagued by gun violence, with data from the Philadelphia Police Department showing there have been at least 127 homicides in what was once coined the City of Brotherly Love, outpacing an already historic 2021, according to Fox 29 Philadelphia. A poll released last week by the Pew Research Center showed that residents of Philadelphia are the most pessimistic they’ve been in over a decade, with gun violence being the primary reason cited by the 63% of residents who said they believe the city is on the wrong track.
Between June and December 2020, Norman and other Georgia-based defendants purchased guns almost daily at stores like Academy Sports, Adventure Outdoors and a string of pawn shops and then trafficked them to Pennsylvania, according to the federal indictment unsealed last month.
Two brothers, Kenneth Burgos, 23, and Edwin Burgos, 29, are accused of brokering sales in Philadelphia. All 11 defendants are charged with conspiracy, with the Burgos brothers also facing charges of dealing without a license. ATF agents discovered more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition at an apartment raided in Georgia as part of the investigation, along with 183 empty gun boxes.