Three men suspected of illegally bringing between 80 and 90 firearms to Chicago from Kentucky for sale to street gangs have been arrested by federal agents.
John L. Phillips, 23, of North Wolf Road in Hillside, Christopher Henderson, 23, of Kentucky, and Jaiqail Wright, 23, of the 900 block of Central Park, Chicago, are scheduled to appear before a federal judge on May 17.
In a 72-page criminal complaint affidavit, an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms charged that Henderson and Phillips made purchases of multiple hand guns and rifles on numerous occasions in Kentucky beginning in September 2016 and throughout 2017. The two then sold many of those guns to a middleman, Wright, who sold the weapons to street gang members on Chicago’s West Side.
The complaint identified Wright as a member of a faction of the Conservative Vice Lords street gang.
Phillips has two prior felony convictions, one for aggravated battery and use of a deadly weapon in 2013, and the other for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
A number of the weapons the three allegedly sold were later recovered from crime scenes in Chicago and the western suburbs, one just three days after it was sold in Kentucky.
ATF investigators say Henderson and Phillips purchased firearms from straw buyers they met via a firearms website that is dedicated to the private party sale and/or trade of firearms and related components such as magazines, ammunition and gun parts.
Authorities say that “more than 40 firearms” that were recovered by Chicago police in just the last year were purchased by two known straw purchasers in Kentucky, who in turn sold them to Henderson and Phillips for sale in Chicago. Nine of those firearms, they said, were recovered from various crime scenes in the Chicagoland area, aggravated assault with a weapon, narcotics related offenses, felon in possession of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon.
Besides using Facebook to identify straw purchasers, Henderson and Phillips reportedly used Facebook routinely to contact Wright and broker firearm sales in the city of Chicago and western suburbs.
Unbeknownst to them, federal agents were following their communications through a covert Facebook account they had set up, as well as monitoring their cell phone calls and physically surveilling them as they traveled to and from Kentucky.
In one intercepted Facebook post, Wright expresses disappointment after Henderson tells him he had 10 Glock hand guns, but had sold them.
“You know my people need Glocks,” Wright replied.
In that same Facebook conversation, Henderson informs Wright that he had sold “big [stuff]” to someone else, “some ARs (AR-15 style firearms).
Wright replied that his buyer “want some big [stuff] to (sic).”
Henderson and Phillips, who are being held without bond, also have weapons charges pending in state court.
Henderson was arrested by Cicero police last October after a traffic stop and charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon after a gun was found hidden in his car.
Phillips was arrested by Chicago police in July and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after two guns and ammunition were recovered from his car.
Following Phillips’ July arrest, a federal judge authorized an electronic tracking device. That soon led to him being arrested again in August in Hillside.
After returning from Kentucky, he was stopped in Hillside and his car searched. That turned up two Glock hand guns, ammunition and $5,000 in cash, all of which were confiscated.
Feds bust three for Kentucky to Chicago gun pipeline —-