An associate of a U.S. based group which sells firearms on a Darkweb market has been busted. The 29-year-old Gerren Johnson was taken into custody after an international investigation was conducted exposing him as a firearms trafficker. The weapons were smuggled in electronic products and delivered to buyers across the globe especially to people in Australia.
In 2017, Gerren Johnson, along with William Jackson were prosecuted on federal charges for delivering firearms without a license from the United States to other parts of the world. They were exposed from hiding behind the anonymity of the darknet in order to sell unlicensed firearms.
Johnson was associated with an Armitage International Model Scarab Scorpion 9mm pistol seized in the Netherlands, and a Glock Model 17 Gen 4 9mm pistol which was headed for France. These firearms were smuggled as parcels inside electric switchboards, distribution boards, circuit breakers and disconnect, electricity meters, transformers and other types of devices not immediately detected by the U.S. postal service overseas during transportation.
In 2017, Australian gun owners turned in 51,000 firearms ranging from 19th-century weapons to a rocket launcher, during a three-month amnesty. After these firearms were destroyed, the Government concluded that those who still owned such guns would face jail time and harsher penalties.
This has put illegal street weapon sellers into a compromised situation. Criminals resort to the Darkweb where transactions are made anonymously. “You can’t just buy a gun, they will ask for a genuine reason for owning a firearm. If you can’t provide one, you won’t get the gun,” reported Philip Alpers, a firearms injury researcher at the University of Sydney. In response, the Australian authorities have gone undercover on the Darkweb. Their successful method led to the arrest of a man who attempted a weapons sale on the Darkweb.
On an underground website called BlackMarketReloaded (BMR), the illegally organized criminal group based in Atlanta publicized guns to be sold. This illegal market website works on the Onion Router making it difficult to trace transactions since the identities of buyers and sellers are masked. The username of these dealers on the website is CherryFlavour and they sell guns, including Glock pistols with a price range of $2,300 to $3,400.
In June 2013, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) discovered through an investigation that CherryFlavour and another group with the username WorldWide Arms, parceled firearms which were shipped to Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
The individuals identified in this group were Sherman Jackson, Brendan Pearson and Gerren Jackson, who lived in Atlanta, Georgia, with a fourth defendant, William Jackson who lived in East Point, Georgia. Arrests of this kind have been made on many occasions by the authorities as plans were ongoing to put a stop to firearm trafficking.
This year, out of approximately 10 to 15 firearms that are sold monthly by this group, 31 firearms were seized internationally and confiscated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service before leaving the shores of the United States.
Last year, it was made known to the public that the arraignment only contained charges and the defendants were presumed to be innocent of the charges. The illegal organization, trading and use of firearms is a threat and a significant safety concern for any country at all.
The high demand for and distribution of these illegal firearms and ammunition in Australia is motivated by organized crime groups to low-level individual criminals, who continue to seek, procure and use firearms to protect their interests and commit violent acts. This time around, Johnson was convicted and sentenced.
Firearms were seized in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Australia, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Zambia on the report from the ATF. Australia also obtained $25.4 million to combat the illegal firearms trade in 2016, and this has been a model for the current operations.
Johnson was sentenced on Thursday to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to his smuggling charge in the U.S. District Court in Georgia.