South Dakota Man Who Served as an Arsenal for Individuals Involved in Criminal Activity Sent to Federal Prison for Conspiring to Possess Firearms in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime
A man who conspired with others to possess firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes was sentenced October 6, 2021 to four years in federal prison.
Brandon Christiansen, age 40, from McCook, Lake, South Dakota, received the prison term after a May 12, 2021, guilty plea to possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crime.
Evidence at the detention, plea, and sentencing hearings showed that from about February 6, 2013 to June 30, 2020, Christiansen illegally acquired and illegally distributed as many as 56 firearms, all while he was also an unlawful user of illegal drugs. Christiansen acquired the weapons by lying about his own drug use. He then traded firearms to individuals involved in criminal activity in exchange for access to illegal drugs. Some of these weapons were semiautomatic firearms capable of accepting large capacity magazines.
On June 29, 2020, defendant’s home was searched, and defendant was interviewed. At that time defendant estimated he had purchased approximately 56 firearms over the preceding five years. Despite claiming he collected firearms, not one firearm was still in his possession at the time of his interaction with law enforcement. Purchase records confirmed defendant acquired at least 23 firearms, from five different gun stores in Sioux City, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Six of the guns were recovered by law enforcement after defendant purchased them. Five were recovered in the course of unrelated narcotics investigations, and the sixth was recovered in another unrelated police action.
The time between defendant’s purchase and law enforcement’s recovery of the guns ranged from five years (for a weapon that was recovered in Colorado in connection with a multi-pound drug investigation) to just 66 days (for a weapon recovered locally by law enforcement).
Christiansen was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. Christiansen was sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment. He must also serve a two-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
Christiansen is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.
The case was investigated by the Sioux City, Iowa Police Department, the North Sioux City, South Dakota Police Department, the Union County, South Dakota Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Department of Justice --United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The Case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 21-4020.
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Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Northern District of Iowa