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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 7, 2021

Man Sentenced to More Than 8 Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking Dozens of Firearms From Kentucky to Chicago

CHICAGO — A suburban Chicago man has been sentenced to eight and a half years in federal prison for trafficking dozens of guns from Kentucky to Chicago.

From 2016 to 2018, JOHN PHILLIPS schemed with others to purchase rifles and semi-automatic handguns from private sellers in Kentucky and re-sell them in the Chicago area.  Many of the guns were sold to convicted felons whom Phillips knew could not legally purchase or possess firearms.  Several of the guns trafficked by Phillips were later discovered by law enforcement at crime scenes in Chicago.

Phillips, 26, of Lyons, Ill., pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of unlawfully dealing firearms in interstate commerce.  U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang imposed the 102-month prison sentence Tuesday after a hearing in federal court in Chicago.

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Kristen De Tineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Louisville (Ky.) ATF Field Division, Chicago Police Department, Illinois State Police, and Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force.

“The breadth and extent of defendant’s firearms trafficking operation is staggering,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth R. Pozolo and Kalia Coleman argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.  “As a result of defendant and his co-conspirators illegally selling guns, violence ensued involving real victims and disrupting community safety.”

Two other defendants were charged and have pleaded guilty to federal firearm charges as part of this investigation.  CHRISTOPHER HENDERSON, 26, of Louisville, Ky., was sentenced in 2019 to five and a half years in federal prison.  JAIQAIL WRIGHT, 27, of Chicago, is set to be sentenced today by Judge Chang.

Disrupting illegal firearms trafficking is a centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s cross-jurisdictional strike force aimed at reducing gun violence.  As part of the Chicago strike force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office collaborates with ATF, CPD, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in the Northern District of Illinois and across the country to help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms and identify patterns, leads, and potential suspects in violent gun crimes.  While this investigation began prior to the launch of the strike force, the initiative is designed to enhance efforts to investigate and prosecute similar cases.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated October 7, 2021