A federal judge in Seattle on Tuesday sentenced Curtis Van Putten to six years behind bars for selling stolen assault rifles to an undercover police officer in 2012.
“The defendant believed he was selling guns to the leader of a criminal gang, and expressed no concern about putting powerful firearms in the wrong hands. He has earned his six year prison term,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a press release.
Van Putten, 44, was part of a gun and drug trafficking ring, responsible for selling at least 49 guns. Most of the guns were sold in the parking lot of the Tulalip Resort Casino. Some of the weapons also were sold outside businesses in Marysville and Arlington.
The ring peddled shotguns, rifles and handguns. The serial numbers on some of the guns were scratched off. Three of the rifles that Van Putten sold had been stolen from an Oak Harbor home just a day before he met up with the undercover officer.
The case was investigated by the Snohomish Regional Gang and Drug Task Force, Seattle police and the FBI.
The ringleader, Heather Chancey, is serving nine years in prison. Two others, James Michaels and Mark Jenkins, also were sent to prison for their part in the illegal gun trade. All four of the defendants had previous felony convictions and were prohibited from possessing guns.
In 2004, Van Putten was sentenced to eight years in prison after a lengthy investigation into a chop shop in Arlington. He also was accused of dealing methamphetamine. Van Putten was released from prison in 2008.
He ran afoul of the law again and opted into the county’s drug court after being charged in 2011 with numerous felonies, including trafficking in stolen property, identity theft and meth possession. The charges stemmed from allegations that Van Putten was up to his old tricks — selling stolen vehicles and keeping them on his property.
Van Putten had attended his weekly drug court hearing about two weeks before he was indicted on the gun trafficking charges.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, firstname.lastname@example.org
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