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Press Release

Final Defendant in Snohomish County Gun Trafficking Ring Sentenced to Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Felon Sold Stolen Assault Rifles To Undercover Officer

The final defendant in a Snohomish County gun trafficking ring was sentenced today to six years in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiracy to unlawfully traffic in firearms and being a felon in possession of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  CURTIS VAN PUTTEN, 44, of Marysville, Washington, pleaded guilty in February 2014 on the eve of trial.  VAN PUTTEN has prior convictions for drug possession and possession of stolen property.  As a felon, he was barred from possessing the three stolen assault rifles that he sold to an undercover officer on December 11, 2012.  The firearms had been stolen from a home in Oak Harbor, Washington just the day before the sale.  At sentencing U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said stolen assault weapons “show up in the hands of people who do very bad things.”

            “This defendant believed he was selling guns to the leader of a criminal gang, and expressed no concern about putting powerful firearms in the wrong hands.  He has earned his six year prison term,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “Our country has experienced all too well the terrible destruction that occurs when firearms are put in the hands of the wrong people.  As a result of gun violence, lives are ended, families are destroyed, and dreams are shattered.”

            The leader of the gun trafficking ring, Heather Chancey a/k/a/ Heather Lee Slater, 34, of Marysville, Washington, was sentenced in February 2014 to nine years in prison.  According to records in the case, on multiple occasions between October 2012 and January 2013, Heather Chancey and her co-conspirators sold guns to an undercover law enforcement agent.  Most of the sales occurred in the parking lot of the Tulalip Resort Casino in Marysville, Washington.  Some of the sales occurred in other parking lots of businesses in Marysville or Arlington, Washington or at a Marysville residence.  The ring trafficked 49 firearms.  VAN PUTTEN sold three of the firearms to the undercover officer in a transaction brokered by Chancey at an Interstate 5 rest stop near Arlington, Washington.  VAN PUTTEN sold the undercover officer a Ruger Ranch .223 caliber rifle, a DPMS Panther Arms, model AR-15, .223 caliber rifle and a DPMS Panther Arms, model LR-308, .308 caliber rifle for $1050.

In addition to Chancey, conspirators James Michaels was sentenced to 10 months in prison and Mark Jenkins was sentenced to 42 months in prison for conspiracy to unlawfully sell firearms.

This investigation was conducted by the Snohomish Regional Gang and Drug Task Force, the Seattle Police Department’s Major Crimes Task Force, and the FBI.  During the investigation, those agencies were assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force and the United States Marshal’s Violent Offender Task Force.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kate Crisham and Justin Arnold.

Updated March 20, 2015