Facebook played a major role in Denver-area gun theft arrests

DENVER -- Hundreds of pages of federal court documents detail the statewide manhunt for the suspects responsible for a rash of gun thefts across the state.

According to the federal indictments, ATF agents went undercover to buy weapons and used social media postings on Facebook to arrest 17 people.

The suspects are accused of stealing more than 400 guns from 22 Colorado gun stores.

"We all teamed together to hit this head on and we did," said ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Denver field division, Deborah Livingston.

Court documents show agents arrested Viet Trinh, 18, when he posted a selfie on Facebook holding a stolen gun. They also said he used Facebook messenger to try and sell them writing, "Know anyone that wants to buy a baby .40? $300."

"A lot of these people are very young, and they've grown up in this generation where everything is online and on social media so they think that is remarkably cool to do something like that," said Livingston.

In another case, where 74 firearms were stolen from the Cabela's in Lone Tree and Thornton, court documents state Kendall Crockett sold "the vast majority of the guns to blood gang members."

The indictment also said Crockett talked about it in "Facebook postings" including "the sale of a firearm to a juvenile who was then apprehended with the firearm" in his school parking lot.

"I ask them to continue doing that, because we will catch you," said Livingston.

According to the indictments, some of the 400 stolen guns ended up as far away as Missouri and Livingston said were also used to commit crimes.

During the break-ins, the thieves were in and out in less than two minutes and typically used a stolen car to ram into stores.

The ATF said it lead to a record number of gun thefts in Colorado and across the country. Agents believe a lot of the crimes were copy cats.

"I think a lot of it is that it looks like an easy target, a lot of times it's not, but if you can get in and get the guns they're always easy to sell or get rid of," said Livingston.

Read more details about the arrests here.

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