A 25-year-old man belonging from Homer of Alaska going by the name Ben Handley has admitted his counts on selling Glocks over the internet via the Dark web that has been illicitly modified as stated in the plea agreement that had been submitted off lately. The government has accused the defendant of using the dark web and the various other dark web email addresses in order to ship at least 12 of the illegally modified firearms to one or more customers who are based in the United States.
The bust has made headlines in most of the local media that included newspapers, weeklies and fortnights where the headlines mainly stated it as the “Dark web Gun Deal Case”. While the fact is although the 15 counts of the indictment brought for Ben Handley has never focused on the illegal shipment of the firearms through specifically the dark web but there have been other court documents that have successfully hinted that the dark web indeed had some roles to play in the whole criminal case and as well in the investigation.
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In September 2018, the U.S. Attorney named James P. Kennedy Jr. has announced that a federal grand jury has had returned 15 counts of the indictment against the accused of an array of the federal weapon violation act. The 15 counts of the indictment bore five counts of unlawful machinegun transfer, five counts of the unlawful shipment of the defaced firearms and five counts of the unlawful transport of firearms. The charges that have been stemmed from an investigation and led by the same agencies have usually involved in the investigations into the vendors of the dark web; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). The other agencies that were included in the investigation were United States Marshals Service and Alaska State Troopers who have assisted in the investigation and as well as transporting the defendant.
In the early months of 2018, an undercover agent from the Homeland Security Investigations had received an email from the defendant from an address that bore the username “Abraham_Ford.69” at an undisclosed provider. Here is the complete statement of the agent:
Although the documents that have been provided in the court had no details about the circumstances that have caused the email exchange between the defendant and the HSI undercover agent, they do state that the defendant had conducted business on the dark web. It is purely unclear if the accused had listings for his modified firearms on any of the dark web marketplaces or simply had advertised his services on the dark web forum or could be that perhaps he had responded to a request on a forum that has been posted by the undercover agent. Considering the concern of the court, these details are immaterial.
The defendant has agreed to ship a Glock 17 that is capable of selective fire to the undercover agent of the HSI for $1000. The rule is that the registered firearms are legal under federal law except some of the global states. Selective fire is legal as well for the civilians but the civilian must possess a firearm with the selective fire registered before 1986 or hold an FFL along with the appropriate SOT. None of them – Handley’s Glock 17, Handley himself and FFL was not at all pre-banned. The undercover agent has received the Glock in the multiple packages as well as proper instructions for assembling the Glock. The serial number on the Glock receiver had been removed. Although owning an un-serialized firearm (including Glock clones) is completely legal under federal law, while defacing or removing the serial number from a firearm with a serial number is illegal.
The accused has repeated this process for 11 more times as per the plea agreement. The accused has been charged to have pleaded guilty to–unlawful transport of a firearm–carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will likely be towards the maximum possible sentence based on the severity of the crime and the number of special offense characteristic increases outlined in the plea agreement. The sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
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