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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Nevada

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Las Vegas Man Sentenced To Prison For Selling Hundreds of Firearms Without A License

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A Las Vegas man who sold nearly 200 firearms without a Federal Firearms License was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson to two years and five months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada.

“Through Project Guardian, the Department of Justice is focused on preventing and prosecuting gun crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “Today’s sentence will help deter those who ‘lie and buy’ firearms that, all too often, are resold and then used by violent criminals.”

Sylvester Mitchell, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of dealing in firearms without a license. Mitchell pleaded guilty to the federal charge in October 2019.

According to court documents, between January 2017 and November 2017, Mitchell purchased approximately 226 pistols. Mitchell purchased firearms on a weekly basis and, on several occasions, went to multiple Federal Firearm Licensees on the same day to buy guns. A few days or weeks after purchasing those firearms, Mitchell — who did not have a license to sell firearms — would place online advertisements offering to sell them. Of those firearms, over 100 were subsequently recovered and found to have been illegally possessed, used in a crime, or suspected to have been used in a crime. As of today, five of the firearms Mitchell illegally sold were recovered in connection with homicides.

Between June 1, 2017 and September 14, 2017, law enforcement conducted multiple undercover firearms purchases from Mitchell based on his online advertisements. On November 7, 2017, during the execution of a search warrant, law enforcement seized 37 firearms, including eight that were advertised as being for sale at the time of the search warrant execution.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Burton prosecuted the case.

This case was part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.

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Updated January 14, 2020