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Former Ill. prison guard charged with selling guns to one-time inmate

Updated: May 30, 2013 7:47PM

Early this year, a former Illinois prison guard allegedly in the business of selling firearms — including assault rifles — complained to a former inmate about the difficulty he was having finding weapons after the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn., federal authorities said.

The former guard, Dwayne Meeks, 48, now living in Little Rock, Ark., was arrested Wednesday on federal charges he sold eight firearms, including five assault rifles, to someone he knew was a convicted felon, according to federal prosecutors in Chicago.

The two met when the buyer was an inmate and the they stayed in touch. Meeks was arrested Wednesday by FBI agents following an undercover investigation in which the former inmate posed as a firearms trafficker in the federal probe, federal prosecutors in Chicago announced Thursday.

Meeks, formerly of Chicago and Joliet, was charged with one count each of dealing firearms without a federal license and selling firearms to a convicted felon in a criminal complaint that was unsealed following his arrest. He will be jailed pending a detention hearing Monday in Chicago before federal Judge Sidney I. Schenkier.

According to the complaint, Meeks and the former inmate — who later began working with federal authorities in the investigation — met in Chicago in May 2012 and Meeks began discussing selling various firearms and showing the cooperating individual photos of the weapons on his cell phone and via emails.

On July 14, 2012 Meeks and the former inmate met in a suburban Cook County Forest Preserve where Meeks allegedly sold eight high-powered firearms to the individual for $18,000, consisting of $15,000 for the weapons from Meek’s supplier and $3,000 for Meeks’ delivery fee, the release said.

FBI agents conducted surveillance and monitored audio and video-recorded transmissions of the alleged transaction, including during the transfer of the weapons from the back of Meeks’ truck to the trunk of a car driven by the cooperating individual.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Meeks allegedly discussed selling additional firearms to the former inmate but a deal planned for the end of July 2012 fell through after the mass shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colo.

The two allegedly discussed another future firearms transaction but Meeks consistently reported the difficulty he was having finding firearms — including after the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn., according to the complaint.

During the last two weeks, Meeks and the former inmate also allegedly discussed Meeks coming to Chicago on Wednesday to sell the cooperating individual at least eight additional firearms. Meeks was arrested on Wednesday when he arrived at the same Forest Preserve location where they met last summer and three AR-15 assault rifles that he allegedly brought to sell were seized.

Dealing firearms without a federal license carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and selling firearms to a convicted felon carries a maximum of 10 years, and each count carries a $250,000 maximum fine.

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