ATLANTA -- Two metro-Atlanta men are facing federal charges for allegedly smuggling illegal firearms around the world through dark net markets.
Authorities believe 28-year-old Gerren Johnson of Austell, Ga. and 29-year-old William Jackson of East Point, Ga. were using the underground internet service to smuggle weapons to more than a dozen foreign countries.
"Relying on the anonymity of the internet, these defendants hoped to circumvent federal firearms laws," U.S. Attorney John Horn said.
Court records showed that in June of 2013, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and other agencies began investigating the alleged firearms trafficking scheme in which the suspects were apparently using the Dark Net website called Blackmarket Reloaded (BMR). Those individuals were operating under the usernames CherryFlavor and WorldWide Arms. The investigation revealed firearms posted for sale on the website and sold to customers outside the United States.
The firearms were then hidden in electronic devices and shipped to countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. The weapons themselves were originally purchased legally through a website known as OutDoorTraders but illegally sold and exported out of the country through BMR and other Dark Web sites such as Utopia and Agora Market.
“Organized criminal groups often rely on the availability of weapons to carry out their activities; thus, the market for illegal firearms around the world," Special Agent in Charge Wayne Dixie of the ATF field division said.
Federal search warrants, coupled with trace interviews, allegedly connected all firearms recovered from original purchasers in the Atlanta area, to the defendants.
Authorities also uncovered shipping information for more than 50 suspected parcels and shared the information with investigators in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Both Johnson and Jackson were indicted by a federal grand jury on May 3.
Other members of the CherryFlavor group have also been identified and arrested. Two defendants - Sherman Jackson and Brendan Person - were located in Atlanta.