stolen guns

A federal prosecutor on Monday said that authorities have recovered only 73 of the 654 guns stolen from a UPS facility in Springfield two years ago.

In October 2017, investigators say a group of men from Texas infiltrated the UPS facility on North Le Compte Road and maneuvered several trailers around the lot until they could access one bound for Bass Pro Shops. From that trailer, the men stole 600 Beretta .380-caliber handguns and 54 Beretta 12-gauge shotguns.

Authorities say they used cell phone data and other evidence to trace the theft back to six men from Texas. The men have all pleaded guilty to federal crimes, but the ripple effects of their theft could be felt for years.

At a sentencing hearing for one of the thieves on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Kelleher said the vast majority of the guns are in “the stream of commerce” and some will likely be used for violent crimes.

Kelleher said the gun theft was the “worst of the worst” because of the potential impact of all those firearms on the street.

Of the 73 guns that have been found by law enforcement, Kelleher said the majority were recovered in Texas, but they have turned up in other states, including California — where one was found when authorities raided a marijuana dispensary.

The first defendant to be sentenced in this case, 35-year-old Frank McChriston, received a sentence Monday morning of 7-and-a-half years in federal prison.

Before handing down the sentence, Judge Beth Phillips called it “shocking” and “breathtaking” to think of all of those guns being illegally traded on the streets.

Three other defendants were also sentenced on Monday. Derrick and Eric White were each sentenced to 7 years and 3 months in prison, and Quinton Haywood was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison.

The defendants were also ordered to pay $206,000 in restitution, for which they are jointly and severally liable.


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