Keith Swanson, also known as “Lil Keith,” 22; James D. Hudgens, 26; and Karshma F. Dardy Jr., 20, all of Nashville, were charged with conspiracy to steal, possess and sell stolen firearms, all of which were allegedly stolen during five separate gun store burglaries in Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky. Keshawn Martin, 19, also of Nashville, was charged in a separate indictment with possession of a stolen firearm. The indictment also charged Swanson, Hudgens and Dardy with possession stolen firearms and unlawfully engaging in the business of selling firearms.
“We realize that the recent rash of gun store burglaries and the substantial number of stolen guns potentially getting into the wrong hands have placed our communities at significant risk,” said U.S. attorney Don Cochran. “I commend the ATF and our local law enforcement partners for their swift action in identifying those responsible and recovering many of these stolen firearms. We will continue to aggressively pursue others who are involved in these crimes as well as other gun store thefts not addressed here today.”
According to the charging documents, between Jan. 10 and Feb. 18, five gun stores were burglarized that resulted in the theft of about 125 guns.
Whitaker Gun Store in Owensboro, Kentucky, was burglarized Jan. 10, and about 63 guns were stolen. Wheeler’s Fastway Gun and Pawn in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was burglarized Jan. 17, and about 26 guns were stolen. Kwik Cash Pawn Shop in Smyrna, was burglarized Jan. 19, and eight guns were stolen. King’s Firearms and More in Columbia, was burglarized Feb. 13, and about 24 guns were stolen. On Feb. 18, about 12 guns were stolen during a burglary at Guns and Gear in Paris.
According to the indictments and other court documents, beginning in January, Swanson and others started to recruit people, including teens, to participate in burglaries of local gun stores. During the investigation of the burglaries, and as the thefts continued to happen, agents found several “for sale” listings of similar guns on armlist.com. Undercover agents were then able to buy several of the stolen guns from Hudgens and Swanson and identify Swanson as the person Hudgens was in frequent contact with when negotiating the sale of the guns. Hudgens and Swanson were charged in a criminal complaint Feb. 23 and arrested.
Court documents also show agents Feb. 23 interviewed Dardy, who was in custody at the Sumner County Jail on car-jacking charges. Agents were able to develop enough information to implicate his participation in some of the gun store burglaries, and he was charged in a federal criminal complaint Feb. 28.
Martin was also charged in a federal criminal complaint March 9 after he was a passenger in a vehicle Metro Nashville police officers pulled over the previous day. According to the complaint, Martin ran away before officers caught him. At the time, officers found a pistol sticking out of his pants pocket. This pistol was later determined stolen during a Feb. 13 burglary from King’s Firearms.
“Reducing violent crime and removing dangerous criminals from our communities is ATF’s top priority,” said acting ATF special agent in charge Jack Webb. “We will continue our collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. attorney’s office as we strive to provide a safe environment for the public.”
If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in prison for the conspiracy charge; up to five years in prison for selling firearms without a license; up to 10 years in prison for possessing stolen firearms; and a $250,000 fine.