What to Know
- Two men and a woman are accused of operating a gun trafficking organization, conducting straw purchases and dealing drugs.
- Police announced the arrests of Gaime Hailemichael, 25, of North Wales, Philip Jensen, 31, and Monica Kumpf, 31, both of Blue Bell.
- The investigation began after a manager of a gun shop who was suspicious of one of the suspects tipped police off.
Two men and a woman are accused of operating a gun trafficking organization, conducting straw purchases and dealing drugs in Montgomery County.
On Tuesday, police announced the arrests of Gaime Hailemichael, 25, of North Wales, Philip Jensen, 31, and Monica Kumpf, 31, both of Blue Bell.
Investigators said the suspects participated in straw purchases, in which someone buys firearms with the intent to sell them to another person.
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The three allegedly bought 11 firearms from four different Montgomery County gun shops and tried to buy six more between April 23 and May 3. Hailemichael and Jensen gave Kumpf money, transportation and the makes and models of the weapons for her to purchase, police said. Kumpf was the only member of the group who was legally able to buy and possess firearms, according to investigators.
Hailemichael and Jensen coached Kumpf on how to act and what to say while buying weapons from federally licensed firearms dealers, police said. The two men compensated her for the weapons with temporary lodging as well as methamphetamine which she sold, according to investigators.
“This type of organization’s sole purpose is to make money by putting firearms in the hands of people who cannot lawfully buy and possess guns on their own,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said. “That should concern every law-abiding citizen, especially since this group was focused on obtaining Mini Draco AK-47 pistols, a smaller version of an AK-47 that is manufactured in Romania. It’s a small, easily concealed, semi-automatic weapon.”
One of the shops Kumpf allegedly bought weapons from was American Arms and Ammo in Colmar, Pennsylvania. Charlie McIntyre, the store manager, told NBC10 he called police after Kumpf tried to buy assault pistols from his store for a second day in a row in late April.
“Basically cash weapons that she was purchasing and how quick she was doing it,” he said.
McIntyre’s tip sparked an investigation which ultimately led to the arrest of the three suspects.
“We can’t keep letting the wrong people have firearms or we’re all gonna lose our rights to firearms,” McIntyre said.
One of the weapons Kumpf purchased was returned to a gun shop while investigators recovered two other firearms, officials said. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies continue to search for the eight remaining weapons.
“If this kind of stuff is out there and in the hands of criminals, it can do significant damage,” Steele said. “I gave you a couple of case examples here, you know. Brad Fox.”
In 2012, Plymouth Township Police Officer Brad Fox was shot and killed in the line of duty. The gunman had an illegal weapon from a straw purchase.
“And that’s what we encourage and hope employees of these stores, owners of these stores, will work closely with us,” Steele said.
McIntyre told NBC10 it was his “duty” to help prevent straw purchases.
“I’ve got four grandchildren,” he said. “I don’t want them getting killed by stray bullets. I don’t want anybody getting killed by stray bullets.”
Hailemichael and Jensen also allegedly trafficked cocaine in addition to the weapons. Half a kilo of cocaine with a street value of approximately $75,000 to $100,000 was found in Hailemichael’s home when he was arrested, police said.
The three suspects were charged with corrupt organizations, conspiracy, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, receiving stolen property, unlawful transfer of a firearm, possession with intent to deliver, criminal use of communications facilities and multiple related offenses.
The suspects were arraigned Tuesday. They were remanded to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility after they each failed to make $1 million bail. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 11.