NEWARK, N.J. – A South Carolina couple made their initial court appearance today on charges of trafficking firearms into New Jersey, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Fuquan Haafiz Ali Bowers, 37, and Christina Lanette Williams, both of Newberry, South Carolina, were arrested Nov. 3, 2021, and are charged by complaint with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, dealing firearms without a license, and transferring firearms to an out-of-state resident. Bowers was additionally charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. They appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McDonald in South Carolina federal court and were each released on $25,000 unsecured bond.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
This summer, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and Elizabeth, New Jersey, police officers recovered several firearms in separate investigations in the city of Elizabeth. One of the recovered firearms was at the scene of a shooting; another firearm was recovered from a juvenile; and the third firearm was recovered from a convicted felon. The ATF later discovered that the recovered firearms were purchased by Williams in South Carolina before they were subsequently recovered by law enforcement in New Jersey. The ATF then obtained documents and other evidence revealing that Williams and Bowers traveled from South Carolina to New Jersey to sell the firearms in Elizabeth.
The firearms dealing charges each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000. The felon in possession of a firearms charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the ATF, Newark Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey L. Matthews; and the Elizabeth Police Department, under the direction of Director Earl J. Graves and Chief Giacomo Sacca, with the investigation leading to these charges.
This arrest was made by a firearms trafficking strike force, part of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the spring of 2021, the violent crimes reduction initiative is a comprehensive strategy to deploy federal resources in the most effective way, disrupt the most dangerous threats and support ground-level efforts of local law enforcement. Within the initiative, firearms trafficking strike forces have been launched to reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors.
The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy P. Shaughnessy of the Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.