(STL.News) – Wesley Joshua Smith has been sentenced to serve five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting a separately charged accomplice who illegally obtained more than two dozen handguns that Smith trafficked domestically and internationally.
“Straw purchasing firearms is not a victimless crime,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Straw purchasers and the gunrunners who direct them help to fuel the illicit gun trade in Georgia and beyond – often with the firearms turning up only after another crime has been committed.”
“Mr. Smith put guns in the hands of criminals,” said Arthur Peralta, Special Agent in Charge of ATF in Atlanta. “Buying guns for people you don’t know, or for people who cannot buy them legally, is a federal crime and we will continue to investigate and arrest those individuals who are engaged in this activity.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Between December 2019 and February 2020, Smith paid an accomplice to purchase 28 pistols—always two or three at a time—from various licensed firearms dealers in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Smith was unable to purchase those firearms himself as a result of a 2013 conviction for an unrelated firearms offense in the state of Maryland, where he had previously resided.
At the time of each purchase, Smith’s accomplice completed paperwork in which he falsely claimed to be the actual buyer of the firearms when he knew that he was buying the guns for Smith, at Smith’s direction, and with Smith’s money. Within days and weeks of the firearm purchases by Smith and his accomplice, local police officers in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Canada recovered nearly a half-dozen of these weapons from crime scenes.
On February 10, 2020, special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives saw Smith accept a delivery of four, 9mm semiautomatic pistols and four, large capacity 30-round ammunition magazines. Agents arrested Smith after he tried to avoid apprehension by physically resisting an agent and attempting to flee.
Wesley Joshua Smith, a/k/a “Menace,” 34, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced on September 21, 2020, to five years of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release by Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore S. Hertzberg prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). In keeping with the Attorney General’s mission to reduce violent crime, the Northern District of Georgia’s PSN program focuses on prosecuting those individuals who most significantly drive violence in our communities, and supports and fosters partnerships between law enforcement and schools, the faith community, and local community leaders to prevent and deter future criminal conduct.
This case was also brought as part of Project Guardian, a national Department of Justice initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws, including those related to firearms trafficking.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at [email protected] or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.