Darknet international gun traffickers sentenced
ATLANTA - Sherman Jackson was sentenced today for unlawfully shipping firearms to more than 10 countries using an online vendor page “CherryFlavor” on the “darknet” website Black Market Reloaded (“BMR”). William Jackson, Gerren Johnson, and Brendan Person were previously sentenced for their respective roles in the trafficking scheme.
“The defendants in this case sought to subvert the guns laws of the U.S. by illegally providing an underground source of firearms to individuals residing in foreign countries,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “This case demonstrates our commitment to pursue gun traffickers within and outside our borders and to prevent criminals from unlawfully supplying guns to others.”
“This operation dismantled a major international gun trafficking organization,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Arthur Peralta. “ATF and its law enforcement partners acted quickly and judiciously on information developed during the course of this investigation. People who choose to commit this type of crime must understand that there are serious repercussions for the illegal trafficking of firearms. Whether here at home in the U.S. or across international borders, ATF will remain on the frontline in identifying, investigating, and arresting anyone involved in firearms trafficking.”
“The defendants developed an illegal firearms trafficking scheme by concealing themselves through the anonymity of the dark web,” said Inspector in Charge David M. McGinnis of the Charlotte Division. “The U.S. Postal Inspection is committed to combat cybercrime and we will continue to be vigilant in disrupting criminal organizations who illegally utilize the U.S. Postal Service.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Sherman Jackson initially created the online vendor page “CherryFlavor” on the “darknet” website “Black Market Reloaded” (BMR). This site operated on “The Onion Router,” also known as “TOR,” which provided virtual anonymity to its users to purchase illicit items, such as firearms. In early 2013, Sherman Jackson, William Jackson, Johnson, and Person began advertising various firearms for sale as CherryFlavor. The group acquired their inventory through domestic websites offering gun owners an online venue to sell firearms. The defendants then sold firearms to international buyers at extremely marked-up prices. For example, the defendants sold a Glock pistol for as much as $3,400 – a firearm normally sold for approximately $500.
In addition to using TOR, the defendants also concealed their illegal gun trafficking activities from law enforcement by requiring international customers to pay for firearms using the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, which prevented law enforcement from tracing financial transactions related to CherryFlavor’s gun sales. The defendants hid firearms inside electronic equipment shipped internationally to bypass U.S. and foreign customs. CherryFlavor sold more than 70 firearms across the world. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives coordinated with its international law enforcement partners to recover firearms in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Zambia.
●Sherman Jackson, 28, of Atlanta, Georgia was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to one year, nine months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release. Jackson pleaded guilty to smuggling firearms from the U.S. on August 20, 2015.
●Gerren Johnson, 29, of Austell, Georgia was previously sentenced to two years and nine months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to smuggling firearms from the U.S. on January 9, 2018.
●Brendan Person, 29, Atlanta, Georgia was previously sentenced to two years and three months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to smuggling firearms from the U.S. on January 31, 2017.
●William Jackson, 29, of East Point, Georgia was previously sentenced to two years on probation. He pleaded guilty to smuggling goods from the U.S. on October 17, 2017.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The following agencies provided invaluable assistance that aided the investigation: the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs; the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom; the Ontario Provincial Police, the Toronto Police, the Durham Regional Police Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Canada Border Services Agency in Canada; the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and Australian Federal Police; the Federal Judicial Police in Belgium; the Dutch National Undercover Team in the Netherlands; the Munich Police Service and the Wetterau Police Department in Germany; Vienna State Police in Austria; and the Swedish Customs and the Public Prosecution Authority in Sweden.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracia M. King and Stephanie Gabay-Smith prosecuted 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.