Three soldiers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were arrested Tuesday by ATF and CID special agents after they allegedly purchased dozens of guns to be used on the streets of Chicago, including pistols found at a mass shooting that left one person dead and several others wounded earlier this year.
Demarcus Adams, 21; Jarius Brunson, 22; and Brandon Miller, 22, were each charged with transferring a firearm to an out-of-state resident; making false statements during the purchase of a firearm; engaging in the business without a firearms license; wire fraud; money laundering; and conspiracy to commit Title 18 offenses, according to a federal criminal complaint. All three are specialists assigned to the 101st Airborne Division.
Glock and Taurus pistols recovered from the scene of a fatal March 26 shooting in Chicago’s Southwest Side were traced back to purchases made by the three soldiers from licensed dealers in the area around Clarksville, Tennessee, according to the complaint signed by an ATF agent.
Firearm transaction records showed that since September 2019, the trio purchased 91 guns from multiple dealers in the area around Fort Campbell, including towns in Kentucky and Tennessee, the complaint stated.
The majority of the guns were purchased in the last five months. After the firearms were secured, Miller would provide them to his associates in Chicago, the complaint added.
ATF agents and Chicago police interviewed Adams at a Fort Campbell CID office April 28. Authorities learned that Adams lived off-post with Miller at a Clarksville home.
Adams was read his Miranda rights before he told police that Miller would give him money or electronic funds through Cash App to purchase the firearms. Miller would then take the guns to Chicago and sell them on the street, Adams told police, according to the complaint.
Adams consented to a search of his phone, which revealed a series of text messages between Adams, Miller and Brunson discussing the sales of guns, what phone apps to use for payments and where to go for purchases.
“Fat boy u better take out a lil loan they want a lot of guns,” Miller told Adams in one exchange on March 1.
ATF agents executed a federal search warrant at Miller and Adams’ Clarksville home April 28 — the same day of the initial interview.
The agents recovered 49 empty gun cases there, at least four of which were matched to firearms recovered by Chicago police at the scene of recent shootings and homicides, according to the complaint.
ATF agents obtained a search warrant for Miller’s phone and saw a text exchange in which he and Brunson shared pictures of handguns and discussed prices.
“Glock 33 .357 for 550 plus tax,” Brunson told Miller in April. “I’m fina Apple Pay u,” Miller responded later, using a slang term that means “about to do.”
Miller would also text with a person who used a Chicago area code phone number. The person’s name was not listed in the complaint. Miller and the unidentified person discussed a trip to Chicago, gas prices and the “risk” involved in driving with guns and ammunition.
“We gotta hold this shit together ima still play the back role g I ain’t never turning my back on gang,” Miller told the unidentified person April 7. “We gone win this *war* we losing the battle but this a marathon not a race.”
On April 15, Miller texted the Chicago phone number a picture showing a stack of handgun cases with the caption, “Ain’t even half.” The stack was similar to the one ATF agents recovered during the April 28 search, the complaint stated.
The three soldiers are expected to appear before a U.S. judge in Nashville late Tuesday. If convicted, the men face up to 20 years in prison.
“I can confirm that the Soldiers involved in the case are assigned to Fort Campbell,” said 101st Airborne Division spokesperson Lt. Col. Kari McEwen. “We will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement authorities in this investigation.”
None of the three soldiers have deployed overseas. Brunson is a unit supply specialist, Adams is a signal support systems specialist and Miller is a fire control specialist, McEwen said.
Attorneys for the accused trio were not yet publicly listed as of Tuesday evening.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq. Follow on Twitter @Kyle_Rempfer