Felon sentenced to prison in international gun trafficking operation

Credit: File photo

Credit: File photo

A felon will spend the next five years in federal prison after he admitted to participating in an illegal gun trafficking operation with arms in Georgia, Maryland and Canada.

Federal investigators said Wesley Joshua Smith and an accomplice fraudulently bought the guns and then put them "in the hands of criminals.”

Smith, 34, of Atlanta, was not able to legally buy firearms due to a 2013 conviction out of Maryland, U.S. Attorney BJay Pak said Wednesday in a statement. Between December 2019 and February 2020, Smith paid an accomplice to buy the guns on his behalf, according to the statement.

The accomplice, who is charged separately, would visit licensed firearms dealers in metro Atlanta and buy two to three guns at a time, prosecutors said.

“At the time of each purchase, Smith’s accomplice completed paperwork in which he falsely claimed to be the actual buyer of the firearms when he knew that he was buying the guns for Smith, at Smith’s direction and with Smith’s money,” Pak said. The pair bought 28 guns in total that way, according to officials.

“Straw purchasing firearms is not a victimless crime,” Pak said. “Straw purchasers and the gunrunners who direct them help to fuel the illicit gun trade in Georgia and beyond – often with the firearms turning up only after another crime has been committed.”

In Smith’s case, officers found nearly six of the illegally purchased firearms at crime scenes in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Canada, Pak said.

Smith was arrested Feb. 10 after federal agents with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives saw him accept a delivery of multiple guns. The delivery contained four 9mm semiautomatic pistols and four large capacity 30-round ammunition magazines.

Smith was sentenced after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting in making false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer, dealing in firearms without a license, conspiring to make false statements and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. After completing his prison sentence, Smith will serve five years of supervised release.