Passenger who discharged firearm at airport during Thanksgiving holiday travel season sentenced to federal prison
ATLANTA - Rashad Sargeant has pleaded guilty to unlawfully exporting firearms to Barbados. Together with co-defendant David Johnson, Sargeant shipped at least 30 guns to Barbados after obliterating the serial numbers of the firearms and packing them inside false compartments in boxes.
“Greed fuels the illicit firearms market with traffickers ignoring the violent consequences of helping to equip criminals with guns,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “We remain steadfast in our efforts to curb gun-related violence in our communities and to prosecute firearms traffickers.”
“The unlawful acquisition and trafficking of firearms is a serious crime that threatens our communities here and abroad,” said Special Agent in Charge, Atlanta Field Division Ben Gibbons. “Obliterated firearms are hard to trace and that is what prohibited individuals are interested in. This investigation illustrates the dedication of ATF and its’ law enforcement partners to disrupt illegal firearm straw purchase schemes within the U.S. or anywhere firearm traffickers, like Sargeant, choose to operate.”
“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, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS), Office of Export Enforcement, Atlanta Office. “BIS will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively enforce export violations and combat illegal firearm exports in the interest of public safety in the U.S. and overseas.”
“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,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Cases like this highlight the great results that can be achieved when agencies work together to protect our communities.”
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court: Johnson recruited Shunquez Stephens and others, to unlawfully purchase guns from federally licensed firearms dealers. Stephens, and the other “straw purchasers,” made false statements to the licensed dealers by swearing that that they were purchasing the guns for themselves. Sargeant and Johnson would then take possession of the guns and use false identifications to mail the guns to Barbados through common carriers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL.
Rashad Sargeant, 27, of College Park, Georgia, pleaded guilty on September 2, 2021. Sentencing for Sargeant is scheduled for December 16, 2021, at 1:30 p.m., before U.S. District Judge William M. Ray II.
David Johnson, 31, of Belleville, Illinois, pleaded guilty on July 22, 2021. Sentencing is scheduled for November 4, 2021, at 1:30 p.m., before U.S. District Judge William M. Ray II.
Shunquez Stephens, 28, of Flowery Branch, Georgia, pleaded guilty for his role in this scheme on June 21, 2021. Sentencing is scheduled for September 22, 2021, at 11:00 a.m., before U.S. District Judge William M. Ray II.
This case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Bureau of Industry and Security.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Keen is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.