Four men have been charged with federal firearms offenses in multiple gun store burglaries.
U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee confirmed Thursday three men were charged with multiple offenses, including conspiracy to steal and sell stolen firearms. A fourth man was charged with possession of a stolen firearm.
Reports stated 22-year-old Keith Swanson, aka “Lil Keith,” 26-year-old James D. Hudgens, and 20-year-old Karshma F. Dardy, Jr. have been charged with conspiracy to steal, possess, and sell stolen firearms.
According to the indictment, Swanson, Hudgens, and Dardy, Jr. were also charged with possessing stolen firearms and unlawfully engaging in the business of selling firearms.
The guns were stolen recently during five separate gun store burglaries that took place in Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.
Also charged was 19-year-old Keshawn Martin. He was charged in a separate indictment with possession of a stolen firearm.
“We realize that the recent rash of gun store burglaries and the substantial number of stolen guns potentially getting into the wrong hands have placed our communities at significant risk,” said U.S. Attorney Cochran. “I commend the ATF and our local law enforcement partners for their swift action in identifying those responsible and recovering many of these stolen firearms. We will continue aggressively to pursue others who are involved in these crimes as well as other gun store thefts not addressed here today.”
Authorities said around 125 firearms were stolen between January 10 and February 18 when the five gun stores were burglarized.
One of the stores, Whittaker Gun Store in Owensboro, Kentucky, was burglarized on January 10. Reports stated 63 firearms were stolen in that case.
Twenty-six firearms were taken from Wheeler’s Fastway Gun and Pawn in Bowling Green, Kentucky on January 17.
On January 19, eight firearms were taken from Kwik Cash Pawn Shop, located in Smyrna.
In Columbia on February 13, around 24 firearms were stolen from King’s Firearms and More, and on February 18 in Paris, 12 firearms were taken from Guns and Gear.
Swanson was alleged to have recruited individuals, including juveniles, beginning in January to take part in the burglaries of area gun stores.
Several “for sale” listings of firearms similar to those that were stolen were found on Armslist.com. Undercover agents purchased several of the stolen firearms from Hudgens and Swanson.
On February 23, both Hudgens and Swanson were charged in a criminal complaint and taken into federal custody.
Dardy, Jr. was interviewed on February 23 while in custody at the Sumner County Jail on car-jacking charges. Through that interview, agents developed information implicating Dardy, Jr.’s participation in the gun store burglaries. He was charged on February 28.
Martin was charged in a federal criminal complaint on March 9. He was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over by officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department on March 8. Reports stated he fled on foot before being captured by police. He was found with a pistol showing from of his pants pocket, and it was determined to be stolen during the King’s Firearms burglary on February 13.
“Reducing violent crime and removing dangerous criminals from our communities is ATF’s top priority,” said Acting ATF Special Agent in Charge Jack Smith. “We will continue our collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office as we strive to provide a safe environment for the public.”
The four could face up to five years in prison for the conspiracy charge if convicted. They could also face up to five years for selling firearms without a license, up to ten years for possessing stolen firearms, and a $250,000 fine.
The case remained under investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Metropolitan Nashville Police Department; the 18th Judicial District Drug Task Force; the Hendersonville Police Department; the Gallatin Police Department; the Henry County Sheriff’s Office; the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office; and the Davies County, Kentucky Sheriff’s Office. According to reports, Assistant U.S. Attorney Siji Moore has been prosecuting the case.