NORRISTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry, along with Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub, and other officials announced the dismantling of a Pennsylvania gun trafficking organization on Wednesday.

The organization purchased 94 firearms and attempted to purchase 23 additional firearms in counties across Pennsylvania, before illegally reselling them throughout the southeastern region of the state.

The eight defendants, who are all from Philidelphia, were arrested on many felony charges related to the straw purchases of firearms, illegally transferring firearms, and operating a corrupt organization. The defendants illegally obtained the firearms purchased in Bucks, Chester, Columbia, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, and York counties.

The firearm purchases were all “straw purchases,” meaning a person with no criminal background purchased firearms specifically on behalf of another person to conceal the true owner of the firearm.

“The members of this gun trafficking organization managed to obtain and sell nearly 100 illegal firearms. Far too frequently these weapons end up in the hands of dangerous individuals to be used to commit crimes and fuel gun violence in our communities,” said Acting AG Henry. “I am grateful for the hard work of all the agencies who partnered in this investigation. Together, we will continue to fight hard to stop the trafficking of firearms in our state and make Pennsylvania safer for all who live here.”

In June 2022, the Montgomery County Detective Bureau initiated an investigation into illegal activities associated with the gun trafficking organization. That is when law enforcement began to follow purchase multiple purchases of firearms from the defendants through the Electronic Record of Sale system (EROS). Detectives were able to use many methods of investigation including cellphone downloads, social media analysis, records of cash transfers, and other means.

“Gun trafficking is a serious crime that endangers our communities since these illegal firearms are sold on to people who can’t buy their own guns. Many of these guns were recovered by law enforcement after being used in violent crimes, not only locally but traveling out of state, which is a threat to public safety and every law-abiding citizen,” said DA Steele. “Law enforcement is committed to fighting these illegal gun sales and gun trafficking organizations whose sole purchase is to make money by arming criminals.”

The defendants were arrested on various criminal charges, including felony counts of Corrupt Organizations, Conspiracy, and firearms charges related to illegal purchases and sales. Other charges include Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activities, Criminal Use of Communications Facilities, Materially False Statements, and multiple related offenses.