Montgomery Man Convicted for Illegal Gun Sales on Darknet Sites
MONTGOMERY, AL—A Montgomery man was convicted on June 19, 2015 for unlicensed firearms trafficking, announced George L. Beck, Jr., United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.
Following a week-long trial, Michael Albert Focia, 48, was convicted on one count of dealing in firearms without a federal firearms license and two counts of transferring a firearm to an out-of-state resident. Based on the evidence introduced at trial, Focia operated as a weapons vendor on “Black Market Reloaded” and “Agora,” both of which were underground marketplaces accessible only when using anonymous encrypted Internet browsing software.
During the investigation, Special Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) posed as gun buyers on these two Darknet websites and were able to negotiate for the sale of two guns from Focia. After agreeing to sell the guns, Focia shipped them from Alabama to Nebraska and New Jersey. In the case of the New Jersey gun, evidence at trial showed that Focia’s fingerprint was on the gun’s packaging.
Focia was also connected at trial to at least 15 to 25 additional gun sales based on information obtained from the Agora website. Focia’s sentencing hearing has been set for October 15, 2015, and he is facing a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.
“ATF’s priority to reduce violent crime includes leveraging technology to curb the illegal transfer of firearms through the Internet,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Steven L. Gerido.
“This is another example of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms catching criminals who transport firearms illegally,” said Postal Inspector-in-Charge Adrian Gonzalez, Houston Division. “Strict federal laws protect the U.S. Mail when firearms are shipped, and postal inspectors will continue to bring to justice anyone violating those laws.”
“Preventing the illegal sale of firearms is a critical part of our war on violent crime,” stated U.S. Attorney Beck. “I applaud the great work of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners who identify and investigate gun traffickers. All too often, illegal gun sales place firearms in the hands of criminals and make our communities more dangerous.”
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the United States Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Gray M. Borden and Jonathan Ross.