Macon Firearms Trafficker Convicted in ATF’s Operation United Front

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

MACON, Ga. –  Three individuals have pleaded guilty to various federal charges resulting from Operation United Front, an ongoing ATF-led investigation into illegal gun possession and drug distribution centered in the Macon, Georgia, community.

Chadrick Purnell, 43, of Macon, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon before U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell on Feb. 16. Purnell faces a maximum ten years in prison to be followed by at least three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for May 3. Co-defendant Jermaine White, 33, of Warner Robins, Georgia, pleaded guilty to two counts use of a communication facility on Feb. 15. White faces a maximum four years of imprisonment for each count to be followed by one year of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for May 3. Co-defendant Jasper Blackshear, 57, of Macon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base on Dec. 16, 2021. Blackshear faces a maximum twenty years of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $1,000,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 6.

“These cases were made possible by investigative leads generated from ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, known as NIBIN. The use of this system allows law enforcement to strategically focus their efforts to areas with the greatest density of shootings,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Reducing violent crime is a top priority for the entire Middle Georgia community. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to maximize every resource at our disposal to achieve this common goal.”

“NIBIN is proven technology that is an important tool in linking the criminal use of firearms with the actual trigger puller,” said ATF Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jason Stricklin.  “In this case, NIBIN allowed us to work with our local partners to identify and take these violent offenders off the street.”

“These arrests and convictions show what technology, teamwork and street level investigations can accomplish. The partnership between ATF agents and Bibb investigators as well as the NIBIN technology has been essential in bringing these gunslingers to justice,” said Bibb County Sheriff David J. Davis.

According to court documents, law enforcement used data compiled from NIBIN in order to identify locations where shell casings were collected from shooting events in Macon. These shooting events were then overlayed on a map, and teams of confidential informants and undercover agents investigated criminal activity in the areas with high density shootings. From May to July 2021, Purnell, Blackshear and White were under investigation. During this time, undercover agents and confidential informants purchased nine firearms and crack cocaine from Purnell, who is a convicted felon. The firearms included two semi-automatic rifles and a shotgun with an obliterated serial number. NIBIN is a proven investigative and intelligence tool that can link firearms from multiple crime scenes, allowing law enforcement to quickly disrupt shooting cycles. For more information on NIBIN, visit https://www.atf.gov/firearms/national-integrated-ballistic-information-network-nibin.

These cases are being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Department of Community Supervision and the Bibb County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the cases.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Keyes is prosecuting the cases.