Three soldiers were arrested by federal agents early Tuesday and accused of conspiring to buy firearms in Tennessee and illegally sell them in Chicago. The weapons were traced to at least one mass shooting and other crimes. Federal investigators say the weapons were linked back to an illegal firearms pipeline.

Demarcus Adams, 21, Jarius Brunson, 22, and Brandon Miller, 22, were arrested by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart for the Middle District of Tennessee said in a statement.

The three enlisted men are members of the U.S. Army stationed at the Fort Campbell military installation in Clarksville, Tennessee. Each was charged with: 

  • transferring a firearm to an out-of-state resident; 
  • making false statements during the purchase of a firearm; 
  • engaging in the business without a firearms license; 
  • wire fraud; 
  • money laundering; 
  • conspiracy to commit Title 18 offenses.
Handguns seized by the Chicago Police Department.
File photo of weapons seized by the Chicago Police Department. (Chicago Police Department)

Chicago Police Begins to Untangle the Soldiers’ Scheme

When Chicago police responded to a mass shooting at midnight on March 26 on Chicago’s Southwest Side, they recovered several firearms that at least two assailants used to open fire at a large gathering at West 79th Street. The shooting left one victim dead and seven more wounded. That jump-started the federal investigation.

Five of the weapons recovered were found to have been purchased from licensed gun dealers in the Clarksville area by Adams, Brunson, Miller as well as a fourth man who has not been charged, the complaint said.

During their investigation, federal agents learned that the three soldiers bought more than 90 firearms from Tennessee and Kentucky between September and April, according to the criminal complaint filed Monday.

Adams was interviewed by federal agents and Chicago police on April 28. He admitted that he and Miller, who supplied the money, would frequent gun shops in the Clarksville area and after purchasing the firearms, Miller would then travel to Chicago and sell them on the street. 

ATF agents serving a warrant during an investigation.
ATF agents serving a warrant during an investigation. (File photo)

The Arrested Soldiers Had Sold Weapons Tied to Many Recent Homicides

Through an examination of the cellphones, it was discovered that the three arrested soldiers were openly haggling over the cost of weapons while posting pictures of the weapons for sale. The suspects’ conversations were released by investigators through court documents.

When discussing a trip to buy guns, Miller messaged Adams, “Naw but u got Zelle?” referring to a cash transfer service.

“Nahh just ApplePay and the Cashapp,” Adams responded, according to the complaint.

Miller then responded: “What time you off im about to cashapp you I need you to grab 3 guns the cheapest 17’s 19’s.”

ATF agents executed a search warrant on the shared Clarksville home of Miller and Adams on April 28. Prosecutors said that agents recovered 49 empty firearms cases and that many of those were matched to firearms found by Chicago Police at the scenes of recent shootings and homicides. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Kurtzman has been assigned as the lead prosecutor of the case. The defendants could face up to 20 years in prison if they are convicted.

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