Justice Department Announces Charges Against Alleged Gun Trafficker
Over 70 Guns Purchased in Just Six Months
The Justice Department announced today that a man who allegedly purchased guns later used in multiple incidents in the United States and Canada has been charged with federal firearm crimes. According to court documents, Demontre Antwon Hackworth, 31, allegedly purchased at least 92 guns from federally licensed firearms dealers, including 75 guns in just six months from a single dealer that later relinquished its seller’s license.
“As part of the Department-wide anti-violent crime strategy we launched last year, we are marshalling the resources of every one of our U.S. Attorneys’ offices, law enforcement agencies, grant-making entities, and other components to work in partnership with state and local law enforcement to disrupt violent crime,” said Attorney General Merrick B Garland. “We are cracking down on the criminal gun-trafficking pipelines that flood our communities with illegal guns, and we have instructed our federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents to prioritize prosecutions of those who are responsible for the greatest gun violence. The case we are announcing today is just one example of those efforts.”
“The second amendment protects the rights of law-abiding citizens – but not prohibited persons, or those who arm them,” said U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham for the Northern District of Texas. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF Dallas, and the entire Department of Justice is working our level best to keep guns away from dangerous offenders before they can put finger to trigger.”
“Illegal firearms trafficking is not a victimless crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeff Boshek of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Dallas Field Division. “There are real consequences when individuals illegally engage in the business of buying and selling firearms. ATF will continue to use all available resources to strategically target and identify illegal firearms sales, trafficking patterns, and sources of crime guns; and to interrupt the illegal flow of firearms to criminal gang members, felons, firearm traffickers, and all persons who are otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law.”
Despite claiming to be the actual transferee (i.e. buyer) of the firearms, Hackworth allegedly engaged in the business of reselling the guns without a federal firearm license and without conducting required background checks. Federal law prohibits individuals engaging in the business of dealing in firearms – defined as repeatedly devoting time and attention to purchasing and reselling guns for pecuniary gain – from doing so without a license.
At least 16 of the guns Hackworth purchased are alleged to have been subsequently recovered in Texas, Maryland, and Canada from incidents that include homicide, aggravated assault, and drug trafficking.
As alleged in the indictment, according to an analysis by the ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), three of the recovered guns had been used in multiple crimes. One gun was used in three separate criminal incidents – two aggravated assaults and one unlawful possession; and two more were used in two incidents each. At least 14 of the 16 recovered guns were recovered in incidents within one year of purchase. One was recovered from an incident just seven days after Hackworth purchased it.
Hackworth was indicted on June 7 for dealing firearms without a license and making false statements during the purchase of a firearm. He was arrested by ATF agents in Dallas on Friday and made his initial appearance in the Northern District of Texas on Monday. If convicted, he faces up to 35 years in federal prison, with a statutory maximum penalty of five years for dealing without a license and up to 10 years for each count of false statement during purchase. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The ATF’s Dallas Field Division, in partnership with the agency’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) program, conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanna Etessam is prosecuting the case with the help of Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Calvert for the Northern District of Texas.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.