Kent, Federal Way men charged in scheme to illegally purchase firearms

2 men reportedly would buy guns and transfer them to others; over 100 bought in less than 2 years

Stock photo, Metro Creative Graphics

Stock photo, Metro Creative Graphics

A Kent man and a Federal Way man face multiple federal charges for allegedly illegally purchasing more than 100 firearms in less than two years and transferring the guns to others.

Dion Jamar Cooper, 31, of Kent, and De’ondre Lamontia Phillips, aka Deondre Lamontia McDougle, 32, of Federal Way, were charged in U.S. District Court in Seattle, according to an April 18 U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) news release.

The charges against both men include straw purchasing of 10 firearms (someone who purchases firearms on behalf of other people) and two counts of trafficking in firearms. Phillips also was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and unlawful possession of a firearm.

“The alleged straw purchaser in this case bought more than 100 firearms (handguns) in less than two years - and two dozen of the firearms have been linked to crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “Schemes like this put our community at significant risk. We will use all tools - including new criminal statutes passed by Congress - to stop such conduct.”

According to the criminal complaint, the investigation began in late January with the assault and attempted robbery of a woman in Rainier Valley. The victim was able to flee in her car. Police found a firearm in her vehicle that had been dropped by one of the assailants. A check of the firearm revealed it had been purchased by Cooper on Dec. 10, 2022.

That recovery led the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) to check Cooper’s purchase history. Cooper had purchased 107 firearms since June 2021. On 24 different instances he purchased multiple firearms - sometime four or more. Of the 107 firearms identified as being purchased in this scheme, 24 of the guns have been recovered and linked to crimes, according to the DOJ.

During March and April 2023, agents surveilled Cooper as he made arrangements to purchase additional firearms. Agents identified Phillips as the person who drove Cooper to the gun shops where he purchased the firearms. Phillips is prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms due to convictions for distribution of heroin (2014) and convictions for illegal firearms possession and two counts of assault (2009). Surveillance of the two revealed Cooper turning the firearms over to Phillips who stored them in his residence.

Cooper has no criminal convictions, so he could legally purchase guns. He reportedly bought at least 107 firearms from several federal firearms licensees at stores in the Seattle area, including Renton and Covington, from June 2021 through March 2023. He sometimes bought as many as four guns at a time. Cooper would sign forms claiming he was buying the guns for himself, but Phillips reportedly would drive him to the shops.

Straw purchasing of firearms (which is a new statute) and trafficking in firearms are both punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Possession of controlled substances in this case is punishable by a mandatory minimum five years and up to 40 years in prison. Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is punishable by a mandatory minimum five years in prison to run consecutive to any sentence imposed on the other charges. Unlawful possession of firearms is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The case is being investigated by ATF and the Seattle Police Department.

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