Public Safety

Proud Boys member sentenced to 30 years for distributing cocaine and possessing firearms in Cedar Rapids

Authorities found machines guns, pipe bombs and silencers in his home

Raven Damien Burkhow
Raven Damien Burkhow

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man, who has a tattoo of an extremist group tied to white nationalism, was sentenced this week to 30 years in federal prison for distributing cocaine and illegally possessing firearms, including machine guns and a pipe bomb.

Raven Damien Burkhow, 26, originally charged with 42 counts, pleaded in January in U.S. District Court to:

• Conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance from September 2018 through April 29, 2019.

• Two counts of use and possession of a firearm during and in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime on March 14 and April 29, 2019.

• Possession of firearms — 20 handguns, long guns, silencers and a pipe bomb — in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime on April 29=.

• Possession of three machine guns April 29.

• Possession of National Firearms Act firearm — a pipe bomb — not registered to him on April 29.

Burkhow was arrested last year after authorities set up controlled buys with a confidential source who bought cocaine, firearms and gun silencers from Burkhow over the course of a few weeks, according to a complaint.

Evidence at sentencing and other hearings showed Burkhow sold cocaine on five occasions to a confidential informant, who Burkhow knew to be a drug dealer.

Burkhow also offered to sell the informant a pipe bomb and sold him a gun without a serial number, known as a “ghost gun,” with a silencer, and a machine gun with an integrated silencer.

Burkhow sold the cocaine and guns from the doorway of his apartment in downtown Cedar Rapids, according to a sentencing document. During a search of his apartment, authorities seized 20 firearms, including machine guns, a sawed-off shotgun and a pipe bomb.

They also found cocaine, 13 silencers and thousands of rounds of ammunition, according to court documents.

Burkhow was ordered to forfeit $177,720 in cash, six gold bars worth about $5,523, and the firearms and ammunition seized in the search.

Sentencing documents showed Burkhow received a general discharge from military service, which he used as an argument for less prison time, but records showed he received two demotions for misconduct and was removed without an option to re-enlist after he was repeatedly absent.

The prosecution, in an argument against giving Burkhow less prison time, said Burkhow lacked respect for the law and law enforcement, according to court documents.

Burkhow’s social media page showed a photo of an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who was shot during the 1993 siege of David Koresh’s Branch Davidians compound in Waco, Texas. He also posted disparaging comments about law enforcement.

Court documents showed Burkhow’s social media and tattoos indicated he was a member of the Proud Boys, which federal authorities have described as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism.”

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At the first presidential debate Sept. 29 between Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, Trump said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, ,,, Sombody has got to do something about antifa and the left.” Trump later condemned the group in a Fox News interview.

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams, during sentencing, also ordered Burkhow to serve five years of supervised release following prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. attorneys Kyndra Lundquist and Richard Murphy and investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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