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A Twin Cities man has been sent to prison for his role in a scheme that illegally put nearly 100 guns on the street.

Geryiell L. Walker II, 23, of St. Paul was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis to five years in prison in connection with the purchasing of guns through people who act as "straw buyers."

This transaction process is a significant driver of the illegal gun market in Minneapolis and St. Paul, authorities say. In typical straw purchases, buyers have no felony convictions or other factor disqualifying them from owning a firearm. But they are actually buying the weapons for others who are either legally ineligible or don't want records linking them to the weapons.

In the scheme involving Walker and two other defendants, authorities said they recovered 18 of the guns at crime scenes or in the possession of people who were barred from having firearms.

According to court documents:

From May 2020 to May 2021, 32-year-old Jeffrey P. Jackson and 34-year-old Sarah Jean Elwood, both of Crystal, and Walker conspired to make the illegal purchases. Elwood, who at the time had a permit to carry a firearm, would buy guns from various licensed sellers on behalf of Walker and others.

The deals included a $100 premium for each straw-purchased gun on top of the price paid for the weapon. The defendants illegally bought a total of about 97 firearms.

Authorities said several of the recovered guns were linked to shootings that happened within weeks after Elwood had bought them.

Jackson was sentenced earlier to four years in prison. Elwood's sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 14.