News and Press Releases

Undercover Firearms Investigation Nets More than 60 Federal and State Arrests, 270 Illegal Firearms Taken Off the Streets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2012

U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF, APD, U.S. Marshals, and Fulton County DA’s Office
join efforts in “Operation Trapdoor”

 ATLANTA - Federal and state law enforcement officials today announced the takedown of a long-term storefront sting operation designed to focus on illegal gun trafficking in Atlanta, which resulted in the arrest of over 60 defendants and federal charges against 40 of those defendants on federal firearms and drug trafficking charges.

The undercover operation targeted gang members, drug dealers and convicted felons who were illegally possessing or selling firearms.  The case was announced at a press conference held this afternoon at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Atlanta by Sally Quillian Yates, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia; Scott Sweetow, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Gabriel Banks, Fulton County Deputy District Attorney; Deputy Chief John Dalton of the Atlanta Police Department; and Chris Atwater, Assistant Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Georgia. 

Meanwhile, federal defendants indicted as part of the operation appeared today before United States Magistrate Judge E. Clayton Scofield III.  The defendants arrested on state charges will make appearances in state court at a later date.

United States Attorney Yates said, “This was a proactive approach by law enforcement to get guns out of the hands of criminals and immediately make our neighborhoods safer as a result.  ATF and APD focused on communities most affected by violent criminals and took nearly 300 guns from the hands of criminals.  The defendants thought it was business as usual, but today they discovered that this law enforcement community is acting together to disrupt the flow of guns to criminals.”

 ATF Special Agent in Charge Scott Sweetow said, “As the criminal element become more sophisticated in their trade, so must the tactics employed by the law enforcement community.  Long-term undercover investigations like the ‘Operation Trap Door’ storefront are a powerful tool in targeting armed violent criminals.  This 14-month investigation culminating with today’s arrests show the powerful partnership between ATF and the Atlanta Police Department.”

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. said, “Gangs, drugs and guns remain a serious problem in Fulton County.  We are grateful to the federal authorities for their continued assistance in combating this criminal activity.  Because of our joint efforts, Fulton County is a safer community.”

Atlanta Police Chief George N. Turner said, “I’m proud of the participation by the brave Atlanta police officers who played a key role in this critical operation.  Just as importantly, I’m proud of our partnership with ATF, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Marshals, and the Fulton District Attorney.  Only when we come together in a sophisticated operation of this magnitude will we be able to make a true impact on crimes that are equally broad in scope.”

United States Marshal Beverly Harvard said, “Gun violence continues to be a significant issue in our communities and law enforcement must use varied approaches to address the issue. This is yet another example of the success that can be achieved when federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutors join forces in our efforts to get criminal elements out of our communities.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the indictment and evidence in court: The storefront operation, called “Operation Trapdoor,” featured an undercover business located on Metropolitan Parkway in Atlanta that operated as a cellphone and vehicle alteration business. Undercover agents, posing as store managers and employees, learned about people in the area who were trafficking in firearms and drugs, and weapons traffickers, drug traffickers and convicted felons began approaching the undercover agents to sell guns and drugs.

The storefront was outfitted with audio and video recording equipment that monitored and preserved all the conversations and interactions between the agents and the defendants.  All together, agents purchased 270 firearms–45 of which were stolen–as well as illegal narcotics.  Nearly all of the defendants indicted on federal charge are felons, and under federal law it is a criminal offense for a felon to possess a firearm. .

In some instances the defendants told the undercover agents information that helped solve other crimes.  For example, one defendant told the agents that he and others attempted to break into a South Georgia prison to sell contraband and that his partner was caught by law enforcement.  That information was turned over to local law enforcement  and that defendant will face additional charges in Telfair County, Georgia for this crime.  Among those indicted on federal and state charges, 27 of the defendants sold contraband to the undercover agents while they were under state probation or parole.

Contraband taken off the streets during the operation include:

  • 3, 906 rounds of ammunition
  • 205 handguns
  • 33 Rifles
  • 25 Shotguns
  • 7 Sawed-off Shotguns
  • 2 National Firearms Act Silencers
  • 2 Ballistic Vests
  • 3 Smoke Grenades
  • 12,339 grams of Marijuana with a street value of $40,800.00
  • 633 grams of  Cocaine with a street value of $69,630.00
  • 961 grams of Crack Cocaine with a street value of $105,710.00
  • 402 grams of Heroin with a street value of $77,990.00
  • 144 grams of Ecstasy/MDMA with a street value of $7200.00
  • 174 grams of Methamphetamine with a street value of $26,100.00
  • 41 pills of  Oxycodone with a street value of $2,050.00
  • 39 pills of Xanax with a street value of $780.00

The federal defendants were indicted on charges ranging from possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of an unregistered sawed-off firearm, possession of a stolen firearm, unlawful dealing in firearms without a license, and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute.

This is the second “storefront” type sting operation that federal and state law enforcement officers have conducted in the past year.  On June 29, 2011, agents took down “Operation ATL Blaze,” during which agents operated an undercover smoke shop on Campbellton Road in Southwest Atlanta, and arrested 49 defendants on charges ranging from conspiring to commit a home invasion robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of an unregistered sawed-off rifle, possession of a stolen firearm, and unlawful dealing in firearms without a license.  In Operation ATL Blaze, agents seized 257 handguns, 60 rifles, 46 shotguns, and 10 sawed-off shotguns.  Of the 35 defendants charged federally, 31 have been convicted, while charges remain pending against two defendants, one defendant has not been arrested, and the charges against one defendant were dismissed.

Those indicted by federal grand juries and arrested today, or already in custody, and their charges include:

                                                                       

            Mohammed Bah 38, Atlanta, GA.

            6 Counts of Possession of a Firearm by an Illegal Alien,

            1 Count of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base

            8 Counts of Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute

            3 Counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base

            2 Counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Crime

            1 Count of Possession and Sale of a Stolen  Firearm

            * maximum statutory penalty of Life

 

            Elizer Owens, 20,  Atlanta, GA.

            2 Counts Possession of a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Crime,

            1 Count of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base

            2 Counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base

            1 Count of Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute

            1 Count of Possession and Sale of a Stolen  Firearm

            6 Counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

            * maximum statutory penalty of Life

 

            Hagie Tunkara, 31,  Atlanta, GA.

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm by an Illegal Alien,

            2 Counts of Possession of Cocaine with the Intent to Distribute

            2 Counts of Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Distribute

            * maximum statutory penalty of 20 years

 

            Andrew Mccord, III, 27, Clayton County, GA.

            1 Count of Conspiracy to Deal in Firearms Without a License,

            2 Counts of Dealing in Firearms Without a License

            * maximum statutory penalty of 5 years

 

            Brenton Wise, 24, Clayton County, GA.

            1 Count of Conspiracy to Deal in Firearms Without a License,

            11 Counts of  Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon,

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number

            1 Count of Possession and Sale of a Stolen Firearm

            4 Counts of Possession of Cocaine Base with Intent to Distribute

            8 Counts of Dealing in Firearms Without a License

            1 Count of Possession of an Unregistered Short Barreled Firearm

            * maximum statutory penalty of 20 years

           

            Mack Patterson, Jr., 29, Atlanta, GA..

            1 Count of Conspiracy to Deal in Firearms Without a License

            1 Count of  Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon,

            1 Count of Dealing in Firearms Without a License

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

            Nathaniel Andrews, 23, Atlanta, GA.

            1 Count of Conspiracy to Deal in Firearms Without a License

            4 Counts of  Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number

            4 Counts of  Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base

            8 Counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana

            1 Count Possession of a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Crime

            * maximum statutory penalty of Life

 

            Cornelius Pierce, 20,  Atlanta, GA.

            1 Count of Conspiracy to Deal in Firearms Without a License

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm in During a Drug Trafficking Crime

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number

            1 Count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana

            1 Count of  Possession of a Firearm by an Individual under Indictment

            * maximum statutory penalty of Life

 

            Jarod Gore, 23, Atlanta, GA.

            1 Count of Conspiracy to Deal in Firearms Without a License

            1 Count of  Dealing in Firearms Without a License,

            1 Count of  Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

            Ryan Horton, 22, Clayton County, GA.

            5 Counts of Dealing in Firearms Without a License,

            2 Counts of Possession and Sale of a Stolen Firearm

            1 Count of Possession of Cocaine Base with Intent to Distribute

            * maximum statutory penalty of 20 years

 

            Charles Carter, 34, Cobb County, GA.

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon,

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

            Will Villarreal, 25, Cobb County, GA.

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon,

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

            Mark G. Young, 43, Cobb County, GA.

            1 Count of Possession of a Destructive Device

            1 Count of Distribution of Explosive Material

            1 Count of Transportation of Explosive Material

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

            Adrian Stephens, 25, Cobb County, GA.

            1 Count of Distribution of Explosive Material

            1 Count of Transportation of Explosive Material

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

            Andrew Benford, 27, Atlanta, GA

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon,

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

            Quintavious Render, 23, Atlanta, GA

            3 Counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

            1 Count of Possession of an Unregistered Sawed-off Firearm,

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

            Travis Yarbrough, 26, Atlanta, GA

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon,

            2 Counts of Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute

            2 Counts of Possession of Cocaine Base with Intent to Distribute

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime

            * maximum statutory penalty of Life

 

            Brian Bell, 26, Clayton County, GA

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm by an Individual under Indictment,

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

            Diontaye “Blue” Jordan, 30, hometown not yet identified.

            1 Count of Dealing in Firearms Without a License,         

            3 Counts of Possession of Cocaine Base with Intent to Distribute

            7 Counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

            1 Count of Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute

            * maximum statutory penalty of 20 years

 

 

            Howard Craig, 22, Atlanta, GA

            5 Counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

            1 Count of Possession of Cocaine Base with Intent to Distribute

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime,

            * maximum statutory penalty of Life

 

            Dwayne Fields, 22, Clayton County, GA

            1 Count of Dealing in Firearms Without a License,

            1 Count of False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm

            * maximum statutory penalty of 5 years

 

            Khalif Jackson, 24,  Atlanta, GA

            1 Count of Dealing in Firearms Without a License,

            * maximum statutory penalty of 5 years

 

            Mosezell Kelly, 23, College Park, GA.

            1 Count of Dealing in Firearms Without a License

            * maximum statutory penalty of 5 years

 

            Christopher “Flaco” Montes, 22, Clayton County, GA

            1 Count of Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute

            1 Count of Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute

            1 Count of Possession of an Unregistered Saw-off Firearm

            * maximum statutory penalty of 20 years

 

            David “Doper” Salas, 21, Clayton County, GA

            3 Counts of Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute

            1 Count of Possession of an Unregistered Saw-off Firearm

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

            * maximum statutory penalty of 20 years

           

            Antwan Lucas, 34, Atlanta, GA.

            1 Count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon,

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

            William Wilder, 31, Atlanta, GA.

            1 Count Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

            * maximum statutory penalty of 10 years

 

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendants’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Atlanta Police Department. Assistance in this case has been provided by U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE).

 Assistant United States Attorneys Stephanie Gabay-Smith, Francey Hakes, and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Tulani Washington and Luke Jones are prosecuting the case.

 For further information please contact Sally Quillian Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney's Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.             

 

 

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