Friday, May 27, 2016 || By Michael Romain || UPDATED: 12:36 a.m.
An investigation conducted by the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force, in cooperation with the Bellwood Police Department and other area law enforcement agencies, has found that an Indiana man, Willie Lee Biles, Jr., may have sold guns purchased from licensed dealers in that state to gang members in Chicago and a Bellwood man convicted of a felon.
Law enforcement officials noted that Biles, Jr., sold four guns to Bellwood resident Otto Lewellen, who pleaded guilty last year to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to a May 26 statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In a plea agreement, Lewellen admitted to purchasing four firearms from Biles, two of which were later recovered by authorities. The other two guns Lewellen claimed to have sold to a man he identified only as “Red.” Neither Red nor the guns could be located by authorities. Lewellen was sentenced to 18 months in prison last year.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Biles made multiple trips in 2013 from his home in Indianapolis to Chicago on a Megabus, “each time bringing with him a gym bag full of handguns. Biles had legally purchased more than 30 firearms from licensed dealers in Indiana.”
“Once in Chicago, Biles would sit on the porch of a residence on the city’s West Side and sell firearms to individuals for two to three times the price that Biles had paid for them,”
On Wednesday, a jury found Biles, 44, guilty of willfully selling firearms without a license. Biles’s guilty charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. He’s due back in court on Nov. 16 for a sentencing hearing.
The Biles case gives anecdotal support to a 2015 report by Trace, a media organization funded by former New York City mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg that seeks to resolve the nation’s gun crisis.
Using data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Trace demonstrates in an infographic that roughly 60 percent of guns used in Illinois crimes come from outside of the state.
The data would seem to resolve the paradox, often harped upon by gun rights activists, of the Chicago area having the’toughest in the nation’ gun laws, but nonetheless alarmingly high levels of gun violence.
Bellwood resident Lewellen’s gun came from the state where most guns that are traceable outside of Illinois come from — Indiana.
As Tom McKay, of Mic, noted:
“Most of the firearms used in crime originated from within Illinois. But such widespread interstate firearm trafficking is why ‘the chief of the ATF’s violent crime and intelligence division has compared trafficked guns to cockroaches in the apartment complex,’ writes the Trace. ‘If you aggressively treat the problem in one place, while leaving it unchecked elsewhere, the infestations will continue.'” VFP
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