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Ringleader and Key Co-Defendant Sentenced to Prison for Leading Beckley-to-Philadelphia Firearms Trafficking Conspiracy

Human RightsRingleader and Key Co-Defendant Sentenced to Prison for Leading Beckley-to-Philadelphia Firearms Trafficking Conspiracy

BECKLEY, W.Va. – Bisheem Jones, aka “Bosh,” 37, of Philadelphia was sentenced today to 25 years in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, for leading a scheme to traffic over 140 firearms from southern West Virginia to Philadelphia. Shyheem Woodard-Smith, aka “Peanut” and “Nut,” 23, of Philadelphia, was also sentenced today to five years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for his key role in the gun trafficking conspiracy.

A federal jury found Jones guilty after evidence at trial proved he oversaw a conspiracy that recruited straw purchasers in the Beckley area to buy firearms that Jones and his co-conspirators took back to Philadelphia to sell for profit. Jones was convicted of interstate travel with the intent to deal in firearms without a license, conspiracy to travel interstate with the intent to deal in firearms without a license and conspiracy to commit money laundering on Dec. 16, 2022, after five days of trial.

From in and around June 2020 to in and around July 2021, Jones and his co-conspirators trafficked over 140 firearms. Over 50 of the firearms were recovered at crime scenes primarily in Philadelphia and were connected to two homicides, crimes of domestic violence and other violent offenses.

“Bisheem Jones brought deadly and tragic results to the streets of Philadelphia and elsewhere,” said U.S. Attorney Will Thompson. “Today’s sentence reflects the harm Jones caused and offers a warning to others who seek to traffic in firearms illegally and bring violence to our communities.”

Jones selected the firearms the straw purchasers bought and provided the money to purchase them. Jones also paid the straw purchasers with money or drugs to buy the firearms. The straw purchasers falsely certified on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Federal Firearms Transaction Records Form 4473 that they were the buyers of the firearms when they knew they were purchasing them for Jones and his interstate gun trafficking conspiracy.

“ATF’s mission is to protect the public by keeping firearms out of the hands of violent criminals,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Shawn Morrow of the Louisville Division, which includes West Virginia. “One of the ways we accomplish our mission is by identifying the sources of crime guns and taking swift action before those firearms can be used to cause harm. This case demonstrates how criminals illegally acquire firearms and how ATF and our law enforcement partners work together to disrupt these networks. I commend the investigative team and the United States Attorney’s Office for their diligent work and for their commitment to keeping our communities safe.”

The federal money laundering statutes Jones violated served to significantly increase his federal prison sentence. This investigation is unique in that agents were able to identify financial transactions that promoted Jones’ firearms trafficking enterprise and violated federal money laundering statutes. In particular, from approximately June 2020 to approximately July 2021, Jones used peer-to-peer payment apps to transfer money to various individuals in Philadelphia and Beckley. Those funds were ultimately used to purchase firearms in the Southern District of West Virginia. The firearms were then transported from Beckley to Philadelphia, where they were sold for a profit. That money was used to purchase more firearms in the Beckley area. Jones used his bank account to pay the straw purchasers and deposit proceeds from selling the firearms in Philadelphia.

“The investigative prowess of IRS Criminal Investigation special agents and our law enforcement partners disrupted the financial flow of funds supporting illegal firearms trafficking,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Kareem A. Carter of the Washington, D.C., Field Office. “IRS-CI is committed to the dismantling of criminal networks that pose a threat to public safety.”

Woodard-Smith played an instrumental role in the firearm trafficking conspiracy, traveling from Philadelphia to Beckley with Jones to oversee the purchase of firearms at Beckley-area stores. Woodard-Smith also encouraged his fellow traffickers to obliterate the serial numbers of the firearms before putting them on the street.

Woodard-Smith pleaded guilty to interstate travel with the intent to engage in dealing firearms without a license. Woodard-Smith is among 18 defendants who pleaded guilty in connection with the firearms trafficking. Jones and Woodard-Smith are the final defendants to be sentenced. Other convicted defendants include:

Denise Johnson, 26, of Beckley, sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison for conspiracy to travel interstate with the intent to engage in dealing firearms without a license.
Donte Webster, 23, of Beckley, sentenced to two years and nine months in prison for making false statements in acquisition of firearms.
Derrick Woodard, aka “D,” 27, of Philadelphia, sentenced to two years in prison for interstate travel with the intent to engage in dealing firearms without a license.
Terri Lawhorn, 29, of Fayetteville, sentenced to two years in prison for making false statements in acquisition of firearms.
Hassan Abdullah, aka “San,” 28, of Philadelphia, sentenced to one year and six months in prison for interstate travel with the intent to engage in dealing firearms without a license.
Maurice Johnson, 37, of Mount Hope, sentenced to one year in prison for interstate travel with the intent to engage in dealing firearms without a license  and making false statements in acquisition of firearms.
Brandon Lawson, 33, of Oak Hill, sentenced to nine months in prison for transferring a firearm to an out-of-state resident.

U.S. District Judge Frank W. Volk imposed the sentences.

Thompson commended the excellent investigative work by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Philadelphia Police Department. Thompson also commend Assistant U.S. Attorneys Negar M. Kordestani and Steve Loew and the office’s trial team.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.

Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for case number 5:22-cr-46.

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Story from www.atf.gov

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity.

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