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August 10, 2023

Philly men used soldier's stolen ID to purchase guns in Montgomery County, DA says

Taalibudeen Anderson and Tariq Anderson of Philly and Daijon Griffin of Wilmington, Del., have been charged with falsifying information to buy guns with the intent to sell them

Investigations Firearms
Identity theft gun purchase Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Three men — Taalibudeen Anderson, Tariq Anderson and Daijon Griffin — have been charged for their roles in allegedly using an Army soldier's identity to purchase and sell guns in Montgomery County.

Two Philadelphia men and a third man from Wilmington, Delaware, have been arrested and charged for their alleged roles in using a stolen identification card to illegally purchase more than a dozen guns, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said on Thursday. 

Taalibudeen Anderson, 22, Tariq Anderson, 23, and Daijon Griffin, 21, are accused of using the identity of an Army soldier, Shaheim Dontez Mitchell, to falsify documents to purchase 14 guns and start an illegal gun-selling ring. They are charged with more than 500 counts of identity theft and gun trafficking, a press release from Steele's office said

"Gun trafficking defeats a key tool to prevent serious crime and puts our communities and the people who live there at risk. Not only did the defendants' alleged crimes endanger the physical safety of Pennsylvanians, but they exploited the identity of a soldier serving our country," Attorney General Michelle Henry said.

Mitchell was visiting his mother in April when he lost his wallet containing both his Pennsylvania and military ID cards. Taalibudeen and Tariq, who lived a few houses away on the 5600 block of Boyer Street, found the wallet, authorities say. Neither of the men is legally allowed to purchase guns due to previous run-ins with the law. 

According to authorities, from June 17 to July 6, Taalibudeen used Mitchell's identification to purchase 14 guns through online orders that would be picked up at TriTac Firearms in Wyndmoor. He attempted to purchase 14 more guns with the ID.

Both Taalibudeen and Tariq were arrested on July 12 when their Lyft ride was pulled over outside of TriTac Firearms. Taalibudeen showed police his real ID, but he also had Mitchell's ID in his possession. Tariq fled the car on foot and was later taken into custody. 

When police searched the home of the Anderson men, they found multiple empty gun boxes, shipping labels, ammunition and receipts.

Griffin was arrested after authorities learned that he helped the Anderson men set up sales for the guns.

Three of the illegally purchased guns were recovered by police. They recovered a black Canik 9 mm semiautomatic weapon during a drug trafficking arrest on July 16. That same day, a tan FN Five-seven firearm was recovered during a traffic stop. On July 25, police searched a car that was involved in a shooting on Parrish Street and found another tan FN Five-seven firearm. All of the guns were purchased by Taalibudeen. 

“These defendants were arming criminals, plain and simple. And the actions of these criminals are made even worse by their taking advantage of a loss by a soldier serving our country," Steele said. "The recovery by law enforcement of three of the 14 straw-purchased firearms within days of their purchase shows how fast these illegal guns show up at crime scenes. This flow of illegal firearms onto the streets makes all of our communities less safe."

Philadelphia has had a problem with illegal guns getting into the wrong hands, which correlates to its gun violence problem. Straw purchasing pertains to the legal purchase of guns, then selling them to someone who can not legally obtain them. Last month, the City of Philadelphia filed a lawsuit against Frank's Gun Shop, Delia's Gun Shop and Tanner's Sports Center for allegedly engaging in straw purchases.