On May 31, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia announced an indictment against two Georgia men for smuggling guns via the darknet. The men sent more than 50 “suspect packages” to at least a dozen countries. The four-year investigating began in Melbourne, Australia, in 2013.
Customs authorities in Australia intercepted a package that contained a karaoke machine. And within the karaoke machine, authorities found a pistol. They then questioned the package’s recipient and gathered intel on the shipper. Upon package seizure, Customs knew that someone from Georgia shipped the package.
CherryFlavor and CherryFlavor_2 a.k.a. Gerren Johnson from Atlanta and William Jackson from East Point purchased the guns legally through “The Outdoors Trade,” a free online classified page. They additionally set up face-to-face meetings where they met firearm sellers in Georgia.
Other reported methods by which the men disguised the guns: inside antique cotton candy machines, home stereo speakers, and DVD players. And some of the additional guns the men sold: Glocks, Berettas, CobrayM-11s, and an Armitage International Scarab Skorpion.
While authorities began the search for the culprit(s), more than 19 gun packages surfaced in Austria,Canada Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
The Australian police learned that the recipient ordered the pistol from a darknet market vendor named CherryFlavor. CherryFlavor sold weapons on the Black Market Reloaded—and, in this case, sold a Zastava 9mm to the Australian customer for $3,000. Many firearm vendors ended up in custody for weapon sales on the Black Market Reloaded.
CherryFlavor, along with the later-discovered co-defendants, used numerous cryptomarkets to distribute firearms. These included the Black Market Reloaded, Agora market, and Utopia market. These markets, while being non-existent now, ended firearm support sometime before their closure.
A federal grand jury previously returned an indictment against two other members of the group: Sherman Bernard Jackson and Brendan Sherrod Person. Both had already been arrested and both pleaded guilty to their respective roles. Gerren Johnson and William Jackson were indicted by a federal grand jury on May 3.
Gerren Johnson was arraigned on May 24, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker. William Jackson was arraigned on May 30, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Justin Anand. They face federal charges of operating a firearms business without a license, illegal transportation of said firearms, and illegal delivery of firearms to a common carrier.
“Johnson and Jackson are charged with using underground Internet websites to illegally sell firearms to individuals in over a dozen foreign countries,” U.S. Attorney John Horn. “Relying on the anonymity of the Internet, these defendants hoped to circumvent federal firearms laws.”