AG Shapiro Announces Three Arrested In Philadelphia For Straw Purchasing And Trafficking 19 Firearms

February 4, 2022 | Topic: Criminal

Guns Purchased At Different Locations In Bucks, Montgomery, Philadelphia and Lehigh Were Illegally Transferred To Criminals

HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced the arrests of Bryan Johnson, Dajuan Coffee, and Quadir Burley for their roles in the illegal straw purchases of and conspiracy to traffic 19 firearms.

“The defendants coordinated the illegal purchases and transfer of 19 firearms into the hands of criminals to be used on the streets of Philadelphia,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “The majority of these straw purchases were made at gun dealers with electronic records of sale, making it easier for law enforcement to track straw purchasers and trace crime guns thanks to our Track + Trace Initiative. Our Gun Violence Task Force works every day to follow up on these guns and hold straw purchasers accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

According to the investigation conducted by Office of Attorney General Gun Violence Task Force agents, between March 2020 to November 2021, Johnson, 24, who at the time had no criminal record, purchased 19 firearms at 15 different locations across Bucks, Montgomery, Philadelphia, and Lehigh counties. Investigators determined he would then illegally transfer the purchased weapons to gun traffickers Coffee, 21, and Burley, 23, who are not legally able to purchase firearms. Coffee and Burley then trafficked the firearms to other individuals, including prohibited purchasers. Agents observed a pattern of Johnson purchasing one firearm at a location spaced out over time to avoid detection.

“I’m grateful for the tireless efforts of everyone on the Gun Violence Task Force for getting these three individuals off of our streets and for shutting down a significant gun trafficking operation occurring throughout Philadelphia,” said DA Larry Krasner. “I’m particularly proud of Assistant District Attorney Sarah Gordon, who worked with state GVTF agents from the beginning of this investigation through to arrests, and who successfully argued for over $1 million bail to ensure that these dangerous suspects remain in custody and not be released. While enforcement is absolutely critical to keeping our communities safe from the scourge of gun violence, we also desperately need state legislators to step up and enact commonsense gun regulation.”

During the time period when the straw purchases occurred, Burley, a convicted felon, was under the supervision of the Pennsylvania Board of Parole. While on this supervision, investigators observed that Burley continued to arrange for the purchase and illegal transfer of firearms.

The majority of gun shops and vendors where Johnson purchased the firearms used electronic records of sale, which enables law enforcement to track crime guns and straw purchasers. At the start of the launch of the Office of Attorney General’s Track + Trace Initiative in 2019, only 139 retailers were using electronic records of sale. By 2021, after Track + Trace outreach, 294 retailers moved from paper receipts to electronic records of sale, which is an increase of 112 percent. To date, five of the firearms straw purchased by Johnson have been recovered by law enforcement.

On Monday, January 31, Burley, Coffee and Johnson were each arrested and charged with 19 counts of illegal transfer of a firearm, conspiracy and related offenses. Under state law, a person who illegally transfers two or more firearms is subject to the Brad Fox Mandatory Minimum of 5 to 10 years in state prison.

This case is being prosecuted by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. This investigation was conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Philadelphia Police Department. All charges discussed are accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

# # #