By JEFF MARTIN Associated Press
Prosecutors are charging an Alabama man with illegal gun sales in a case that involves weapons advertised online at Armslist.com and shipped to buyers in Mexico, New York and California, court records show.
In a newly unsealed affidavit, a federal agent says Arkeuntrez Kenyez Lareco Washington told him that he’s sold guns to out-of-state buyers since 2016 after watching a documentary film about firearms trafficking.
Washington admitted to using FedEx, with phony names and no return addresses, to ship packages to California and New York, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent wrote in the sworn affidavit.
The investigation began last month, when a federal agent reviewed “firearms multiple sales” reports associated with Washington. Such a report is generated when someone purchases two or more firearms within a five-day period from a federally licensed gun dealer.
From there, authorities found that he’d purchased many of the weapons from Hoover Tactical Firearms and Academy Sports and Outdoors stores in the Alabama cities of Hoover and Birmingham, court records show.
Federal agents say they’re aware of at least 15 firearms Washington purchased since November 2018 in Alabama, including nine “AR-type” pistols. Court records don’t specify how many of the guns are suspected of being illegally sold to others.
In an interview with the federal agents, Washington said he offered the weapons for sale at Armslist.com, and used a “burner” phone to respond to inquiries from potential buyers, the affidavit states. Such phones are commonly used by drug and weapons dealers to thwart investigators, the agent wrote in the documents.
Washington said that after the federal agents contacted him, he threw the phone in a Birmingham dumpster and shredded his shipping records and other documents.
Court records don’t list a lawyer who could speak on Washington’s behalf. Messages sent to Armslist.com were not immediately returned Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the online site was singled out by Everytown for Gun Safety’s “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” campaign when it issued a news release in response to Sunday’s mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.
“A recent report showed that in 2018 alone, there were as many as 127,524 ads on Armslist.com offering guns for sale in Ohio with no background check required,” the group said in its news release.
Current federal law allows gun sales through such online sites without requiring background checks, the group said. The group has said the internet “has emerged as a massive, unregulated marketplace” for guns sales.