The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) recently seized over 400 firearms from an apartment in Philadelphia after a two-year investigation, revealing a large gun-smuggling ring operating out of the city. ATF officials stated that they had been investigating the case since 2020, and had been tracking illegal firearms back to the sellers via “Straw Purchases”. “Straw Purchases” are when a person legally buys a firearm from the government and then sells the firearm to someone who is not allowed to own a firearm, which lets the government track the firearm sold if they are found in crime scenes. ATF Officials also stated that most of the illegal firearms originated from Pennsylvania, while the rest originated from Georgia. A Pennsylvania Grand Jury indictment made this March stated that Frederick Norman, an Atlanta area rapper who goes by the name of ‘Slowkey Fred’, used four other individuals in the Atlanta and Philadelphia areas to help smuggle the firearms across the country to sell to criminals. A major reason for the investigation succeeding is the fact that some firearms were traced from crime scenes to this small group of individuals in Atlanta, due to the previously mentioned Straw Purchases. Other individuals involved in the case were Five Georgia residents, who were all charged with Conspiracy to deal Firearms without a License by the US Federal Government, while Frederick Norman awaits a trial for his crimes, which include Firearms smuggling.
The ATFs Philadelphia branch logo (Fox5Atlanta)
During the investigation of the apartment which housed the firearms, ATF reports indicate that the main suspect, Frederick Norman, had personally purchased many of the firearms from sporting goods stores across the state of Georgia before shipping them to Philadelphia to be distributed to individuals who were interested in using them for criminal acts. Jennifer Arbitter Williams, Eastern Pennsylvania US District Attorney, stated that “Firearms illegally trafficked from Georgia to Philadelphia were made available on the black market to people who can’t lawfully purchase guns.” The bust comes after a years-long surge in gun violence around Philadelphia and Atlanta, and ATF Officials stated that they were hopeful that the bust would help curb rising gun crime rates across the two states.