Sherman Jackson, 28, has been sentenced to prison for illicit firearm trafficking.
The Atlanta man was found guilty along with three other traffickers, having made use of a darknet marketplace to illegally traffic weapons.
According to the court, Sherman Jackson and his accomplices—William Jackson, Gerren Johnson and Brendan Person from Atlanta, Cobb County and East Point respectively—masterminded this movement since 2013.
It is unclear whether they made any sales on the street before finding the dark web a perfect place for their trading.
They set up a darknet store and effectively promoted their sales. The store, called “Cherry Flavor,” offered items at marked up prices, such as Glock pistols for $3,400. They obtained their weapons on the internet at lower prices, which enabled them to make enough profits to keep them in the trade.
The firearm traffickers managed to sell about 70 firearms across 10 countries.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, an investigation was made by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) before the four firearm traffickers were given their final judgment.
ATF Roles in Darknet Market Raids
Arthur Peralta, the ATF agent in charge, said in a statement that gun trafficking criminals, whether in the U.S. or internationally, must understand that there are serious repercussions for their activities. He added that the ATF will continue to stay on the frontline of identifying, investigating and arresting firearms traffickers.
The investigation that led to the arrest of Jackson and his accomplices by the ATF has also been launched in several other countries including Australia, Germany, Canada, Zambia, Austria, the Netherlands and other nations. The trafficking of illicit firearms has been a major concern in Europe, especially in the U.K., as criminals find the dark web an easy entry for such activities.
Sherman Jackson pleaded guilty to this count and was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison. His sentence also has two years of supervised released.
Gerren Jackson was sentenced to two years and nine months on January 9, 2018, after pleading guilty to trafficking firearms from the U.S. Brendan Person, another accomplice, was also sentenced to two years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to trafficking illicit firearms from the U.S. He was sentenced on January 31, 2017.
Lastly, William Jackson was given two years of probation on October 17, 2017. He was found guilty of trafficking illicit goods from the U.S.
They are all under the two years supervised release clause.
This is meant to send a strong message to other traffickers that the darknet markets do not guarantee 100 percent safety to their operators.
A Recap of Their Previous Operations
Last year, Gerren Johnson and William Jackson were indicted after the U.S. authorities intercepted some of their packages normally sent via the postal services. They managed to send 50 packages of firearms to about 12 countries after buyers made an order on the dark web.
A further investigation led to the discovery of 17 packages of ordered firearms being sent to customers across the globe. Much evidence was found against Johnson and Jackson, and it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that they engaged in the selling of unlicensed firearms and engaged in the trafficking of goods from the U.S.
In one of the packages intercepted, authorities found Berettas, Glocks, a Scarab Skorpion and CobrayM-11s, packaged in a deceptive case which was meant to sail through the postal services.
As with most darknet-ordered packages, the firearms were deceptively hidden in a candy machine, a DVD case, and other strategic cases.
In 2013, an Australian customs agent discovered a Ukraine-made firearm in one of the packages trafficked from the U.S., and the arrests were made through the collaboration of U.S. and Australian agencies.
Considering the years of operation in the dark web platforms, they have successfully used these methods to mail firearms to their customers over the years.
Other forms of darknet sales, including the trade of drugs, are mostly sent through this same means.
Brendan Person and Sherman Jackson were also taken to court in May 2014 for illicit distribution of firearms and trafficking of arms from the U.S. to other countries.
The dark web has been the prime target of authorities to trace and arrest weapons and drugs traffickers. There have been many raids on these markets.
Many other methods have also been employed, including undercover surveillance to monitor the addresses of buyers on the dark web.
Australia is one of the main countries to receive firearms trafficked from the U.S. Two years ago, Australian police seized 300 guns and weapons parts trafficked from areas in the United States.
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