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Press Release

Waterloo Man Who Bought Guns for Other People Sentenced to Over Six Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Consistently lied on forms required to buy guns

A Waterloo man who purchased at least 38 guns for other people was sentenced November 8, 2022, to over six years in years in federal prison. 

Joshua William Butler, age 35, from Waterloo, Iowa, received the prison sentence after a May 3, 2022 guilty plea to false statement during purchase of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a drug user.

Evidence at the plea and sentencing hearings showed that in 2020, Butler purchased at least 38 firearms from different retailers in the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area. When Butler filled out the forms to purchase the firearms, he indicated that the guns were for him and that he did not use controlled substances.  However, it was later determined that Butler purchased the firearms for others.  In January 2021, police officers searched Butler’s Waterloo residence.  During their search, officers found a Glock 9mm firearm, ammunition, a 33-round extended magazine, marijuana, and 62 ecstasy pills.  The Glock 9mm had a serial number that someone had attempted to scratch off.  Officers also searched a storage unit belonging to Butler and found another gun.  Officers believe that only ten of the firearms purchased by Butler have been recovered.  The majority of the firearms were recovered in the Chicago area.  Many of the firearms were recovered from people who were lawfully prohibited from possessing firearms, including one individual who was out on bond at the time for murder charges.

“Keeping guns out of the hands of criminals saves lives. Our partners in this case, the ATF, FBI, and the Waterloo Police Department, successfully devoted their time and effort to put an end to Butler’s illegal activities,” said United States Attorney Timothy Duax.  “As a result, our community is safer. To those who would act as straw purchasers and provide guns to convicted criminals, I can only say look at Mr. Butler, and ask whether you want to share his fate. The United States Attorney’s Office, its law enforcement partners, and the law-abiding public are committed to enforcing our firearms laws, and keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals.”

ATF Special Agent in Charge, Fred Winston said: “Firearms trafficking is never a victimless crime and this case highlights ATF’s commitment to restrict the flow of firearms to the violent criminals.  There is no way to know the number of violent crimes that were prevented by disrupting Mr. Butler’s firearms trafficking scheme, but we do know that this investigation not only put a trafficker behind bars, but also made our communities safer by limiting criminals access to firearms.”

Butler was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Butler was sentenced to 78 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term and pay a $100 special assessment fee.  There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ashley Corkery and Kyndra Lundquist.  This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) through a cooperative effort of the Waterloo Police Department, FBI Safe Streets Task Force, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Court file information at

The case file number is 21-CR-2020.

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Updated November 10, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses