PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Terrance Darby, 41, of Philadelphia, PA, and Ontavious Plumer, 32, of Due West, South Carolina, were charged by Superseding Indictment with gun trafficking offenses in connection with their scheme to straw purchase and transport across state lines almost 60 firearms.
Specifically, the defendants were charged with unlicensed dealing and transport of firearms, and conspiracy to engage in unlicensed dealing of firearms and to make false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer. Darby was also charged with drug trafficking and gun possession stemming from his possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl, and unlawful possession of two firearms in his home in November 2021.
According to the Superseding Indictment, between November 2020 and February 2021, the defendants conspired with at least four other individuals to illegally straw-purchase almost 60 firearms from federally licensed gun shops in South Carolina, then transport these firearms via car into Philadelphia. Darby would allegedly place orders for firearms with Plumer, who would then direct co-conspirators to straw purchase firearms and transport them to Darby and his co-conspirator in Philadelphia.
This Superseding Indictment is the third set of charges brought by this Office in the last two months targeting the illegal trafficking of firearms from southern states into Philadelphia, a large northeastern city, a fact pattern which is known as the ‘iron pipeline.’ In April 2022, multiple defendants were Indicted in two federal cases involving the unlawful trafficking of approximately 400 firearms up the ‘iron pipeline’ into the city.
“Earlier this year, the Justice Department announced strategies to fight violent crime, including cracking down on firearms trafficking and the ‘iron pipeline,’ and our Office announced the indictment of fourteen people engaged in that that black-market business. With today’s charges, we have shut off yet another valve to stem the flow of guns into Philadelphia,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Our Office is working with urgency and determination to get guns off the streets of our city.”
“At a time when our communities have seen a spike in violent gun crime, it is more important now than ever that we hold those accountable for criminal actions,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “The diligence of our local, state, and federal partners prevented more guns from circulation into the community, as the indictment alleges.”
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Jeanette Kang.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.