Palm Beach County Armed Career Criminal and Fentanyl Peddler Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison

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

Miami, Florida – A federal district judge in West Palm Beach, Florida has sentenced 33-year-old Eric Leon Nelms to 180 months in federal prison for possessing a firearm and distributing fentanyl as an armed career criminal.

Nelms was prosecuted under the Federal Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), which provides for an enhanced sentence for persons with at least three prior felony convictions for violent felonies or serious drug trafficking crimes.

On February 21, 2020, Nelms sold a stolen firearm, identified as a Smith & Wesson, Model Bodyguard, .380 Caliber pistol, and a second firearm, a Kel-Tec, Model P3AT, .380 Caliber pistol.  On May 26, 2020, Nelms sold a third firearm, a Taurus, Model G2C 9 mm pistol.  He also trafficked twenty-five (25) capsules of fentanyl.  Prior to his commission of the offenses, Nelms had two prior separate felony convictions for robbery, and one prior felony conviction for possession of cocaine with intent to sell.  Nelms was therefore subject to the enhanced sentencing provisions of the ACCA.

Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Christopher Robinson, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division; and Chief Frank Adderley, West Palm Beach Police Department, announced the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon O’Shea Darsch prosecuted the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney William T. Zloch is handling asset forfeiture.

This case stems from Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  In 2017, PSN was reinvigorated as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This prosecution is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence driven, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime.  The OCDETF program facilitates complex, joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, by managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 21-cr-80118.

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