SAVANNAH, GA: Seven defendants face federal charges including drug trafficking and illegal possession firearms after separate indictments by a grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia, while recent actions in U.S. District Court include guilty pleas and criminal sentences.
The indicted cases are being investigated as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods in collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI, in an ongoing effort to reduce violent crime by targeting those who illegally possess firearms.
“Convicted felons are prohibited from possessing firearms,” said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “We will continue to relentlessly pursue those whose illegal possession of guns threatens the safety of our community.”
In the past three years, nearly 700 defendants have been federally charged in the Southern District of Georgia for illegal firearms offenses – most often for possessing a firearm after conviction for a previous felony. That charge carries a statutory penalty upon conviction of up to 10 years in prison, and there is no parole in the federal system.
Defendants named in federal indictments from the October 2021 term of the U.S. District Court grand jury include:
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Additional defendants recently have been adjudicated on federal charges that include illegal firearms possession:
These cases also are being investigated under the Prosecutor to Prosecutor Program (P3), in which federal and state prosecutors collaborate to determine the most appropriate venue for adjudication of alleged crimes.
Agencies investigating these cases include the ATF, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Georgia State Patrol, the Savannah Police Department, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office, the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, the Thomson Police Department, the Brunswick Police Department, and the Glynn County Police Department.
The cases are being prosecuted for the United States by Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office Assistant U.S. Attorneys, including Henry W. Syms Jr., Patricia G. Rhodes, Tania D. Groover, Joshua S. Bearden, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Darron J. Hubbard.
Under federal law, it is illegal for an individual to possess a firearm if he or she falls into one of nine prohibited categories including being a felon; illegal alien; or unlawful user of a controlled substance. Further, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense or violent crime. It is also illegal to purchase – or even to attempt to purchase – firearms if the buyer is a prohibited person or illegally purchasing a firearm on behalf of others. Lying on ATF Form 4473, which is used to lawfully purchase a firearm, also is a federal offense.
For more information on the lawful purchasing of firearms, please see: https://www.atf.gov/qa-category/atf-form-4473.
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