Five Gun Traffickers Arrested for Selling Over 25 Firearms, Including Assault Rifles, Connected to Four Shootings in Brooklyn

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

Sixth Defendant Arrested for Trafficking Crack Cocaine In Brooklyn And Queens

A complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Jamel Clarke, Dwayne Harris, Rayon Lovett, Owen Welch and Ronald Welch with engaging in a gun trafficking conspiracy dating back to September 2021, involving the sale of at least 28 firearms, including multiple AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles and AK-47-style assault rifles. At least two of the guns had been previously used in four separate shootings in Brooklyn.  Dwayne Harris and Pheod Khan were also charged in the complaint with engaging in a crack cocaine trafficking conspiracy. An additional defendant is also charged in the drug trafficking conspiracy and remains at large.

The defendants were arrested between June 26, 2022 and June 28, 2022.  Ronald Welch was arraigned on June 27, 2022, Clarke, Harris, Lovett and Owen Welch were arraigned on June 28, 2022, and Khan was arraigned on June 29, 2022, in federal court in Brooklyn before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann.  All of the defendants with the exception of Harris and Khan were detained pending trial; Khan’s detention hearing will be completed tomorrow on June 30.  

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John B. DeVito, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the complaint.

“As alleged, the defendants brought deadly weapons, including guns involved in at least 4 shootings, and narcotics to the streets of Brooklyn and Queens directly contributing to the cycles of gun violence and drug abuse,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “These arrests demonstrate the commitment by this Office and our law enforcement partners to save lives by stopping the flow of illegal firearms and narcotics into our communities.”

Mr. Peace thanked the NYPD’s Brooklyn South Violent Crime Squad and the United States Marshals Service for their outstanding investigative work on this case.

“These violent gun traffickers have been identified and caught because of the dedication of the law enforcement professionals protecting this City,” said Special Agent in Charge DeVito.  “ATF and our partners will continue to do so, while simultaneously disrupting the flow of illegal guns to our streets and preventing violent crime.”

According to the complaint and a memorandum filed in connection with the defendants’ bail hearings, the gun-trafficking operation involved the sale of at least 28 illegal firearms over multiple transactions in Brooklyn and Queens between September 2021 and June 2022.  The defendants conducted these firearms sales in vehicles outside of homes in the Prospect Park South neighborhood of Brooklyn, including in locations near Prospect Park, across from a church, and blocks away from a kindergarten through eighth grade public school. 

The deals often occurred in the middle of the afternoon and in broad daylight, with the dealers sometimes walking down public streets carrying bags of dangerous firearms past residents.  Many of the guns were high-powered shotguns and rifles and included extended magazines and drum clips.  Some of the guns had defaced serial numbers so that they would be untraceable by law enforcement.  At least two of the guns had been previously used in four separate shootings in Brooklyn. 

The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Benjamin Weintraub and Andrew D. Reich are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendants:

JAMEL CLARKE
Age: 38
Brooklyn, New York

DWAYNE HARRIS
Age: 36
Brooklyn, New York

PHEOD KHAN
Age: 42
Brooklyn, New York

RAYON LOVETT
Age: 35
Brooklyn, New York

OWEN WELCH
Age: 42
Brooklyn, New York

RONALD WELCH
Age: 47
Brooklyn, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 22-MJ-679 (RML)