Former Illinois Prison Guard Charged with Illegally Selling Assault Rifles and Other Firearms to Cooperating Former Inmate
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 30, 2013|
CHICAGO—A former Illinois prison guard living in Arkansas was arrested on federal charges for allegedly illegally selling eight firearms, including five assault rifles, to an individual he knew was a convicted felon because they met when the individual was an inmate and they later remained in contact. The defendant, Dwayne Meeks, was arrested yesterday by FBI agents following an undercover investigation in which the former inmate, posing as a firearms trafficker, was cooperating with federal agents.
Meeks, 48, of Little Rock, Arkansas, and formerly of Chicago and Joliet, was charged with one count each of dealing firearms without a federal license and selling firearms to a convicted felon in a criminal complaint that was unsealed following his arrest. He was ordered to remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing at 1:15 p.m. Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier in Federal Court in Chicago.
According to the complaint affidavit, Meeks and the former inmate met in Chicago in May 2012, and Meeks began discussing selling various firearms and showing the cooperating individual photos of the weapons on his cell phone and via e-mails. They continued their discussions about arranging a deal involving multiple firearms through the next two months. On July 14, 2012, Meeks and the cooperating former inmate met in a suburban Cook County Forest Preserve where Meeks allegedly sold eight high-powered firearms to the individual for $18,000, consisting of $15,000 for the weapons from Meek’s supplier and $3,000 for Meeks’ delivery fee. FBI agents conducted surveillance and monitored audio and video-recorded transmissions of the alleged transaction, including during the transfer of the weapons from the back of Meeks’ truck to the trunk of a car driven by the cooperating individual.
On more than one occasion, Meeks described the assault rifles as “tact’d out,” meaning they included such features as night scopes and laser sights, the affidavit states. The weapons Meeks allegedly sold and were seized were: two .223 caliber assault rifles, a 5.56 caliber assault rifle, a .50 caliber assault rifle with an ammunition drum attached, a 7.62 caliber assault rifle, a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, and a .22 caliber rifle.
Meeks allegedly discussed selling additional firearms to the former inmate but a deal planned for the end of July 2012 did not occur following the mass shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colorado. They allegedly discussed another future firearms transaction, but Meeks consistently reported the difficulty he was having finding firearms, according to the complaint. In early January of this year, Meeks allegedly complained to the former inmate about the continued difficulty finding firearms after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December.
During the last two weeks, Meeks and the former inmate allegedly discussed Meeks arriving in Chicago yesterday to sell the cooperating individual at least eight additional firearms. Meeks was arrested yesterday when he arrived at the same Forest Preserve location where they met last summer, and three AR15 assault rifles that he allegedly brought to sell were seized.
The arrest and charge were announced today by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Chicago Police Department task force officers assisted in the investigation.
Dealing firearms without a federal license carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, selling firearms to a convicted felon carries a maximum of 10 years, and each count carries a $250,000 maximum fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines. The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald DeWald.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that the defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.