Agencies working to unravel gun trafficking ring tied to Opp tea -, GA News Weather & Sports

Agencies working to unravel gun trafficking ring tied to Opp teacher

Tim Grimes (Source: Barbour County Sheriff's Office) Tim Grimes (Source: Barbour County Sheriff's Office)
Totonio Timmons (Source: Barbour County Sheriff's Office) Totonio Timmons (Source: Barbour County Sheriff's Office)

New details are emerging in a gun trafficking investigation that spans central and south Alabama as local and federal authorities work to take down a criminal network.

Investigators say most of the guns being moved, bought and sold were stolen in home break-ins in places like Barbour, Marengo, Covington and Montgomery Counties.

Deputy Jay Brice with the Barbour County Sheriff's Office says a string of burglaries in recent weeks and a home invasion in rural parts of the county are believed to be connected to the gun ring. In one case, a group of six men entered an 85-year-old woman's home as she slept in her bed.

"The firearms have been taken to where we have determined to be somewhere possibly in Montgomery and from that point, it's being moved to other parts of the state," Brice said.

In Montgomery, Brice says the "middle man" of the operation, Totonio Timmons, 29, of Montgomery, would then contact Tim Grimes, 56, of Opp who was the alleged ring leader. Brice says he has records of calls and texts between the two in which they discussed buying and selling weapons. Grimes would then find buyers for the weapons. He is accused of moving weapons in Alabama and into Florida.

"He would sell these weapons to your everyday folks- teachers, law enforcement, businessmen and women, your next door neighbor- but now they also end up in the hands of criminals for the most part," Brice said.

Grimes, a teacher at Opp Middle School and driver's education instructor, and Timmons are both facing federal weapons charges.

Brice says Grimes would even take Covington County on driving lessons, making stops in places like Montgomery and Wetumpka where he would set up gun deals and make contacts. The students had no idea what was going on.

He was arrested last month at a flea market in Dothan with a load of weapons, Brice told WSFA. He says informants tipped off ATF agents about Grimes' activities and agents made undercover buys from him. When the serial numbers on the guns came back stolen, he was busted.

As the investigation continues, officials are asking anyone with information on the alleged criminal network to come forward as they work to dismantle the entire organization.

"If we can locate where they brought the weapons from, they we can start going down the chain. We can found out who committed the burglaries and who they sold the weapons to and go from there. I'm sure there's more than just these two men who are involved with it," Brice said. "We are asking folks, basically, if they have any of these weapons or they know these two gentleman that they've purchased weapons from, to contact authorities because more than likely the weapons are going to be stolen that they've purchased."

He says a mixture of guns passed through the hands of Timmons and Grimes- some handguns but mostly shotguns and rifles- including automatic and semi-automatic as well as pump, lever and bolt action.

Tim Grimes faces federal charges including: selling firearms without a license, selling firearms out of state, conspiracy and selling firearms to a convicted felon. Timmons is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Michael Knight, a spokesman for the ATF, says the case stems from their "Frontline" model, designed "to reduce violent crime extends to this investigation by providing a safe environment for the public by removing firearms used in criminal acts."

While they don't know how many firearms are out there as a result of this operation, Knight says the ATF has already found guns used in crimes that trace back to it and the investigation is very much ongoing.

"ATF is tracing the firearms which originated in Alabama but were recovered in crimes throughout the country. This investigation includes the recovery of stolen firearms," he said in a statement.

If you have any information on the case, you're asked to contact your local authorities. The ATF is working with numerous jurisdictions on the case.

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