PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Philadelphia Field Division Special Agent in charge Matt Varisco announced federal charges in two separate interstate firearms trafficking cases at a press conference held at Philadelphia ATF Headquarters today. Both cases involve individuals illegally trafficking firearms from states in the southern United States into Philadelphia, a large northeastern city, a fact pattern which is known as the ‘iron pipeline.’ Taken together, both trafficking conspiracies are alleged to be responsible for illegally putting approximately 400 firearms on the streets.
In the first case, captioned United States v. Norman, et al, the following 11 defendants have been charged by Indictment with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to make a false statement to a federally licensed firearms dealer:
- Fredrick Norman, 25, of Atlanta, GA;
- Brianna Walker a/k/a “Mars, 23, of Atlanta, GA;
- Charles O’Bannon a/k/a “Chizzy,” 24, of Villa Rica, GA;
- Stephen Norman, 23, of Villa Rica, GA;
- Devin Church a/k/a “Lant,” 24, of Villa Rica, GA;
- Kenneth Burgos a/k/a “Peppito,” 23, of Philadelphia, PA;
- Edwin Burgos a/k/a “Rock,” 29, of Philadelphia, PA;
- Roger Millington, 25, of Philadelphia, PA;
- Ernest Payton, 30, of Philadelphia, PA;
- Roselmy Rodriguez, 22, of Philadelphia, PA; and
- Brianna Reed, 21, of Shippensburg, PA.
Additionally, defendants Edwin Burgos and Kenneth Burgos were each charged with dealing firearms without a license.
In the second case, captioned United States v. Ware, et al, the following three people have been charged by Indictment with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to make a false statement to a federally licensed firearms dealer:
- Muhammad Ware a/k/a “Moo,” 26, of Myrtle Beach, SC;
- Haneef Vaughn a/k/a “Neef,” 25, of Philadelphia, PA; and
- Jabreel Vaughn a/k/a “Breely,” 20, of Elkins Park, PA.
Additionally, defendant Muhammad Ware is charged with dealing firearms without a license.
United States v. Norman, et al:
Beginning in October 2020, ATF Special Agents identified multiple firearms which were recovered in the Philadelphia area as having been originally purchased in Georgia. The short time frame between the firearms’ purchase in Georgia and subsequent recovery in Philadelphia (known as a short “time to crime” period) indicated that the weapons may have been trafficked into the city.
According to the Indictment, subsequent investigation showed that over the course of six months, the conspiracy led by defendant Norman allegedly purchased nearly 300 firearms from dealers in and around Atlanta, and transported the firearms to Philadelphia for distribution and sale on the black market in exchange for approximately $116,000.
United States v. Ware, et al:
Beginning in March 2020, ATF Special Agents identified multiple firearms which were recovered in Philadelphia as having been originally purchased in South Carolina. Agents subsequently learned about a number of additional firearms recovered in Philadelphia with short “time to crime” periods that indicated they may have been trafficked into the city, just as in Norman, et al.
According to the Indictment, the recovered firearms were concentrated in a particular area of Philadelphia and were originally purchased near Myrtle Beach, SC. Subsequent investigation showed that defendant Ware had allegedly purchased several of the recovered firearms, and conspired and communicated with defendants Haneef Vaughn and Jabreel Vaughn, and others about the purchase, transportation and sale on the black market of over 100 illegal firearms.
“When I announced the All Hands On Deck initiative in April 2021, I vowed that our Office would do all we could to stop the violence ravaging our city and support the Philadelphia Police Department in its work,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Earlier this year, the Justice Department announced strategies to fight violent crime, including cracking down on firearms trafficking and the ‘iron pipeline’ – the illegal flow of guns sold in mostly southern states, transported up the East Coast, and found at crime scenes in northeastern cities like ours. The two indictments announced today, charging fourteen people with iron pipeline firearms trafficking conspiracies, show that we are aggressively focused on this work.”
“Preventing the illegal use and trafficking of firearms is a central focus of ATF’s strategy to combat violent crime and protect our communities,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “Illegally purchased firearms often end up in the hands of violent offenders and affect communities near and far. Ensuring firearms traffickers are aggressively investigated and swiftly brought to justice will remain a top priority for our firearms trafficking task force. And this collaborative effort between all of our law enforcement counterparts is a prime example of such.”
In Norman, et al: If convicted of all charges, Edwin Burgos and Kenneth Burgos face a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. All other defendants face a statutory maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.
In Ware, et al: If convicted of all charges, defendant Ware faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Defendants Haneef Vaughn and Jabreel Vaughn each face a statutory maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.
These cases are part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 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.
The Norman, et al case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Harrisburg Field Offices, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Marshals, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Priya T. De Souza.
The Ware, et al case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Miller and Special Assistant United States Attorney Martin Howley.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.