ATLANTA – Jahziah Roy Lewis has been sentenced for conspiring to straw purchase firearms, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, exporting firearms outside the United States, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
“Lewis directed the straw purchase of the guns, had their serial numbers obliterated, and then smuggled them in household items with the intent of selling them abroad,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “Our federal and international law enforcement partners were able to intercept some of the shipments before they were used in a crime. We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who buy firearms for others and unlawfully export them for illicit purposes.”
“The unlawful acquisition and trafficking of firearms is a serious crime that threatens our communities here and abroad,” said Special Agent in Charge, Atlanta Field Division Ben Gibbons. “Obliterated firearms are hard to trace and that is what prohibited individuals are interested in. This investigation illustrates the dedication of ATF and its’ law enforcement partners to disrupt illegal firearm straw purchase schemes within the U.S. or anywhere firearm traffickers, like Lewis, choose to operate.”
“Firearms illegally exported from the United States to the Caribbean fuels violent crime, which directly impacts regional stability and U.S. national security interests,” said Ariel Joshua Leinwand, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS), Office of Export Enforcement, who oversees BIS investigations in the Southeast. “This significant sentence should act a deterrent to those seeking to violate U.S. export and firearms laws. BIS and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively enforce export violations to combat illegal firearm exports.”
“Stopping the flow of illegal weapons prevents the spread of violence and crime in communities abroad,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “HSI is committed to preventing the spread of illegal goods and works with its law enforcement partners to bring to justice those violators.”
“The diversion of firearms to individuals who cannot legally possess them contributes to the cycle of gun violence that pose a direct threat to the safety and stability of various communities,” said Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division. “Postal Inspectors will continue to aggressively investigate and hold those accountable who maliciously utilize the U.S. mail system.”
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court: Between February 18, 2017, and May 14, 2020, Jahziah Roy Lewis, a citizen of the United Kingdom, and two accomplices, were involved in an international weapons trafficking conspiracy to purchase and illegally export approximately thirty-six firearms and drugs from the United States to the United Kingdom and the Caribbean via the U.S. Postal Service. Multiple firearms purchased in Georgia have been recovered in United Kingdom and St. Kitts are tied to various criminal networks abroad.
At the time of each purchase, Lewis’s co-conspirators completed paperwork in which they falsely claimed to be the actual buyers of the firearms when they knew that they were buying the guns for someone else (Lewis). Lewis then directed his accomplice to obliterate the serial numbers on the firearms. After the firearms were purchased, Lewis would sell the firearms abroad by directing his accomplices to conceal the firearms in everyday household items and export them abroad using false names on shipping labels.
On October 1, 2020, the same day the Indictment against Lewis’ co-defendants was unsealed, Lewis obtained an outbound ticket for a flight from the United States to the United Kingdom. Local law enforcement, however, intercepted Lewis at the Miami International Airport and arrested him on a criminal complaint before he was able to board his flight.
Jahziah Roy Lewis, 30, of Saint Kitts and Nevis, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas W. Thrash to four years, nine months, to be followed by three years of supervised release.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Bureau of Industry and Security, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the United Kingdom National Crime Agency led the investigation in this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dash A. Cooper is prosecuting the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). In keeping with the Attorney General’s mission to reduce violent crime, the Northern District of Georgia’s PSN program focuses on prosecuting those individuals who most significantly drive violence in our communities and supports and fosters partnerships between law enforcement and schools, the faith community, and local community leaders to prevent and deter future criminal conduct.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.
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