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Almost one year ago, Gerren Johnson and William Jackson were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker on federal firearm trafficking charges. Both men had used Blackmarket Reloaded (BMR) to sell Glocks and other weapons to buyers across the globe. In April 2018, at a U.S. District Court in Georgia, Johnson received a 33 month prison sentence in exchange for his guilty plea.
A 2013 investigation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) ultimately resulted in the identification of the BMR vendors CherryFlavor and WorldWide Arms. Working alongside other federal authorities, the ATF and United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) intercepted or examined 50 or more packages that contained firearms via investigators in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, Germany, and elsewhere.
“According to ATF, firearms were recovered in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Australia, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Zambia,” the sentencing memorandum explained.
Dutch authorities found a semi-automatic pistol linked to a darknet market purchase from Gerren Johnson and the other members of the gun smuggling ring. And law enforcement in France found a another semi-automatic pistol—a Glock 17—that had also been purchased on the darknet from the same vendors.
Australia played one of the more significant roles in the investigation and may have been impacted by the influx of illegal weapons for the most. The investigation eventually led the ATF to Atlanta. They suspected the vendors resided in or around the Georgia city, but had not learned the identities of the suspects. Although they did not know who the vendors were, they likely knew more than one individual running the operation. The number of guns sold on the BMR, Utopia, and Agora darknet markets climbed to 15 guns every month–all legally obtained.
They found that the conspirators had been buying guns legally from an online shop called OutDoorTraders. Through a series of search warrant executions, witness interviews, and standard police work, the ATF connected the online purchases from the original buyers to a group of four men: William Jackson, Sherman Jackson, Brendan Person, and Gerren Johnson. All but William Jackson lived in Atlanta.
Sherman Jackson and Brendan Person both pleaded guilty before Gerren Johnson and William Jackson had even been arraigned. They pleaded guilty to gun smuggling charges. The federal indictment charged Johnson with dealing firearms without a license, illegal delivery of firearms, and illegal smuggling charges. Johnson’s guilty plea to a single smuggling charge saved him from far more prison time than good 33 month sentence. In federal prison, unless he loses his head, Johnson will only serve 28 months in prison.