Chicago man sentenced to 15 years in federal prison; investigation shut down Missouri toChicago gun pipeline


Date: July 12, 2023


CHICAGO — A Chicago man has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison as part of an investigation that shut down a Missouri to Chicago firearms pipeline.

Derrick Claiborne trafficked fentanyl-laced heroin and illegally possessed three handguns in 2018. Law enforcement searched Claiborne's residence on Michigan Avenue in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood and discovered the three guns and the drugs. U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. imposed the sentence after a hearing July 7, 2023, in federal court in Chicago.

Claiborne was one of four defendants convicted as part of an investigation led by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The probe revealed that Claiborne purchased three additional firearms from James Saunders after the guns had been transported from Missouri to Saunders's residence in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood. In addition to the three guns he sold to Claiborne, Saunders also sold multiple firearms to confidential informants who were cooperating with law enforcement.

Saunders pleaded guilty to federal firearm charges and was sentenced in 2019 to five years in federal prison.

Two Missouri residents who transported firearms to Saunders in Chicago were also convicted and sentenced as part of the investigation. Jumonta Moore of Sikeston, Mo., and Marcus Ingram of Charleston, Mo., were each sentenced in 2019 to three years in federal prison.

Claiborne's sentence and the results of the investigation were announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Christopher Amon, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of ATF, and Fred Waller, Interim Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Substantial assistance was provided by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared C. Jodrey and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Niranjan Emani.

Disrupting illegal firearms trafficking is a centerpiece of the Chicago Firearms Trafficking Strike Force, the Department of Justice's cross-jurisdictional strike force aimed at reducing gun violence. As part of the Chicago Strike Force, the U.S. Attorney's Office collaborates with ATF and other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in the Northern District of Illinois and across the country to help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms and identify patterns, leads, and potential suspects in violent gun crimes.

Holding illegal firearm possessors accountable through federal prosecution is also a centerpiece of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Department of Justice's violent crime reduction strategy. In the Northern District of Illinois, the U.S. Attorney's Office has deployed the PSN program to attack a broad range of violent crime issues facing the district, particularly firearm offenses.

"Firearms traffickers enable unlawful possession of guns and the violence that may follow," said Acting U.S. Attorney Pasqual. "We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and hold accountable individuals or groups who traffic firearms into Chicago."

"This case is an excellent example of how the Firearms Trafficking Strike Force, working together with the Chicago Police Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office, stops the flow of illegal guns into our neighborhoods," said ATF SAC Amon. "Prosecuting those responsible for trafficking these firearms makes our community safer."