Two Indianapolis men have been arrested on federal charges alleging they trafficked an arsenal of weapons into Chicago that they thought was being used to fuel gang violence, including assault rifles, Uzi-style pistols and several untraceable “ghost guns.”
“Trust me we gone keep you with all the artillery,” one of the defendants, Devante Brown, allegedly texted to the buyer, who turned out to be an undercover agent. “I come across guns all day long.”
Earlier this month, Brown texted the agent a video of a grenade launcher and asked if he was “interested,” according to a criminal complaint made public in U.S. District Court on Monday.
“U could get grenade launchers?? Thats crazy,” the agent responded.
“Hell yeaa,” Brown replied, according to the complaint. “They could be useful for tactical missions … nobody expecting this type of (expletive) in the streets.”
Brown, 27, and his co-defendant, Corey Sartin, 19 were each charged with conspiracy and willfully dealing firearms without a license. Brown is also charged with illegally possessing firearms as a previously convicted felon.
The pair were arrested Friday as they met with the undercover agent at a storage facility in Calumet City, where they had agreed to sell their most recent haul of 10 weapons for a total of $16,500, according to the complaint.
Among the arsenal were four semiautomatic handguns, four semiautomatic rifles, and two privately made ghost guns, which are firearms manufactured from kits or parts bought over the internet that contain no serial numbers, making them virtually untraceable.
In addition to the 10 firearms allegedly trafficked from Indiana, the complaint also alleged Sartin and Brown sold four other guns to an undercover officer on May 31 in a store parking lot on Chicago’s Far South Side.
Sartin also allegedly sold another firearm to an undercover officer in April in south suburban Lynwood, the charges allege.
Both Brown and Sartin were scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Chicago on Monday afternoon. No attorneys were immediately listed on the case docket.
The 34-page complaint does not state exactly where or how Brown and Sartin were getting the firearms in Indiana.
The charges, however, contained details of conversations between the defendants and the undercover officers in which they allegedly haggle over the price of some of the firearms and chat about the effectiveness of certain weapons in different situations, such as riding around in a car or defending a drug stash house.
During the May 31 transaction in the Pullman neighborhood on the South Side, talk turned to a .308 long rifle the pair had with them for sale, according to the charges. As the undercover officer examined it, Brown said it was possible to take off the stock to make it shorter.
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“You ain’t just riding around with that though,” Brown said about the rifle. “That’s some (expletive) you keep in the trap.”
In a text conversation on June 14, the undercover agent referred to a .22-caliber Uzi-style pistol as “kinda weak,” according to the complaint.
“Yeaaa .22 weak but they deadly,” Brown allegedly responded, telling the agent he should act fast because they were a hot item. “Don’t sleep on em … and I’m sure you can sell it to the lil homies.”
A few days later, after the undercover officer balked at the price of an AK-47, Brown texted him back saying that while buying guns in Indiana was legal, it wasn’t cheap.
He also said that he was taking a big legal risk because “this (expletive) I’m doin is federal,” according to the complaint.
“When I hit the city I got mfs lined up for what y’all don’t get,” Brown texted June 18, according to the complaint. “Make it make sense for me.”