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Tuscaloosa authorities: Multiple arrests in joint operation to combat illegal firearms transactions

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 12:47 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2021 at 4:56 PM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - The Tuscaloosa Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama and the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s Office announced multiple arrests in a joint operation to combat illegal firearms transactions.

The initiative targeted “straw purchases.” Authorities said “straw purchases” involve people prohibited from possessing firearms due to prior felony convictions who use third parties to purchase weapons on their behalf.

“Straw purchases” are illegal under both federal and state law, with the prohibited person and the straw party subject to criminal prosecution.

TPD investigators obtained warrants against nine offenders on 20 felony charges. Four have been taken into custody as of Monday. Thirteen offenders had been taken into custody on federal charges with additional investigations ongoing.

In all, more than 100 weapons were taken out of communities as a result of these joint efforts.

In one of the cases, TPD Assistant Chief Steve Rice said someone bought a gun for a 15 year old and the gun was used in a crime. Another gun was used in an attempted murder.

“Many of these weapons are being trafficked into other states and being used in crimes,” said TPD Assistant Chief Steve Rice. “Straw purchases are one of the main ways firearms enter the illegal market.”

The operation was a two and a half month-long investigation, however some of the cases originated more than a year ago. Many of the arrests were the result of investigators tracing back the origins of a weapon that was used in a crime.

“We have convicted felons who are convincing or paying third parties to break the law for them,” Rice said. “The guns aren’t ending up with people who keep them in a nightstand for protection, or who take them out to the range to shoot on a Saturday. They’re ending up in the hands of people who are committing crimes and this puts the community at risk.”

The defendants accused of making straw purchases obtained firearms from authorized retailers in Tuscaloosa. Investigators learned that the weapons were later transferred to people who are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.

Investigators said when making a straw purchase, buyers sign an ATF Form 4473 that certifies they will be the owner of the firearm. Lying on the form is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $250,000. “The state charge of lying on a form to obtain a firearm is also a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.”

Federal defendants

(ATF investigation, to be prosecuted by U.S. Attorney)

Some of these suspects are accused of being the straw purchaser, others are people prohibited from possessing firearms who paid someone to buy a gun on their behalf)

  • Nasheed Hutchins
  • Dayquan Haley
  • Darius Collins
  • Demarcus Walker
  • Stanley Green Jr.
  • Freddie Ward Jr.
  • Michael Coleman
  • Jeremy Brown
  • Courtney Dansby
  • Johnny Lewis
  • Gregory Whitsey
  • Jasmine Long
  • Tyrone Dansby

State defendants

(Felony charges filed through TPD/Tuscaloosa County DA)

All charged with violating 13a-11-81, submitting false information in an application to purchase firearm. All from Tuscaloosa

  • Lewis Woods IV DOB: 3/27/95
  • Johnathan Blair DOB: 12/12/98
  • Ladarrius Minor DOB: 5/1/99
  • Damian Chandler DOB: 4/10/94
  • Jonathan Lawson DOB: 1/11/99
  • Celina Knox DOB: 11/12/98
  • Jessica Brown DOB: 11/2/93
  • Carlos Humphries DOB: 7/22/75
  • Megan Johnson DOB: 12/10/87

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