GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids man has been sentenced in a gun trafficking case involving over 40 guns that were illegally purchased or trafficked.
Jerreil LaMounta Martin was sentenced to 37 months in prison for the illegal purchasing and trafficking of the weapons, some of which were used in multiple crimes throughout the state.
U.S. Attorney Mark Totten prosecuted the case, which was presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Jonker.
“Straw purchasing and gun trafficking drive a dangerous black market for firearms,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “These crimes feed the violence that plague communities across Michigan – including the horrible killing of an innocent 2-year-old child less than a year ago. My office will hold straw purchasers and illegal gun traffickers accountable for creating these supply lines of violence.”
The U.S. Attorney's Office says that Martin ran an illegal gun trafficking business where he would lie on purchase forms saying he was buying the guns for himself, when they were really for other people. Martin would charge his customers a fee of $50 to $100 per firearm he purchased for them in this way. That tactic of sale is sometimes known as "straw purchasing."
Martin knowingly purchased the guns for convicted felons who were unable to purchase the guns themselves. He also knew that some of his customers were also reselling the guns to other people.
Martin did not have a criminal record prior to this conviction, which allowed him to purchase the guns easily and resell them to prohibited individuals for a profit.
Police say they have recovered 14 of the guns that Martin straw purchased and trafficked, but the whereabouts of many of the remaining guns is unknown.
The U.S. Attorney's Office offered some examples of the crimes committed using the guns:
In Genesee County
- A Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which Martin purchased on April 22, 2021, was used in a drive-by shooting in Flint, which struck an 11-year-old girl.
- Another Glock 9mm pistol, which Martin also purchased on April 22, 2021, was used in a homicide in Flint.
In Kent County
- A Ruger 5.7 x 28 mm semi-automatic pistol, which Martin purchased on September 4, 2021, was used to kill a 2-year-old child on February 9, 2022, in Wyoming, Michigan. The Kent County Prosecutor has filed charges against the victim’s father, Seninta Parks, in this case.
- A Glock .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, which Martin purchased on September 7, 2021, was used in a shooting on the Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids on September 11, 2022, in which four people were injured. Moreover, this same gun was used in two prior shootings in Grand Rapids.
- A Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, which Martin purchased on September 7, 2021, was used in three separate drive-by shooting incidents in Grand Rapids over the next two months.
In Isabella County
- A Glock .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, which Martin purchased on September 10, 2021, was recovered by Central Michigan University Police in connection to a series of vehicle break-ins.
Martin was told that the Ruger 5.7 x 28 mm semi-automatic pistol he purchased on Sept. 4, 2021 was used to kill a child by investigators. Martin would then attempt to straw purchase another gun for a known felon before being arrested by police.
“Gun trafficking and straw purchasing is not a victimless crime. The act of knowingly enabling a prohibited person to purchase a firearm puts firearms in the hands of criminal organizations and violent criminals presenting a grave threat to the safety of our communities,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Assistant Special Agent in Charge Craig Kailimai. “ATF’s relationship with federal, state, tribal, and local partners continue to be successful in removing illegal firearms from the streets.”
“This sentencing is a huge win for public safety in Grand Rapids. We know that illegal guns from this trafficker were used in the shooting on the Blue Bridge in September,” said Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom. “I am thankful for the work of the U.S Attorney’s Office and the ATF to investigate and build this case. Getting illegal guns, and the source of those guns, off the street is a critical piece in reducing gun violence in our city.”
Judge Jonker also imposed three years of supervised release after Marin finishes his time in jail.
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