Gun Runners Picked up in 2 States
Two Investigations Net 10 Firearms
Traffickers From South Carolina
Ten defendants have been arrested in New York City and South Carolina in connection with two separate undercover investigations involving the illegal purchase of firearms in South Carolina, and their transportation to, and illegal sale in, New York City.
The arrests were announced today by William G. McMahon, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, Chauncey G. Parker, New York State Director of Criminal Justice, Wayne E. Bennett, Superintendent of the New York State Police and Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Both investigations were conducted by the ATF’s Joint Firearms Task Force, a long time cooperative effort between ATF and the NYPD to target illegal interstate firearms trafficking. The Task Force was recently augmented with Troopers from the New York State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
According to the government’s previously filed complaints and indictments returned yesterday by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn, the defendants in the first investigation, JOHN RODREIGO HOLLIDAY, age 30 of Pinewood, S.C., SAMMY ELLIS, JR., age 33 of Summerton, S.C.,
ANTONIO JAQUINE GIBSON, age 18 of Summerton, S.C., ENGLAND ADAMS, age 41 of Sumter, S.C. and KIRK K. JOHNSON, JR. age 22 of New York City, obtained at least thirty-six firearms in South Carolina, transported them to New York, and sold them to an undercover Task Force member in a parking lot in Brooklyn. The firearms were purchased during four different undercover meetings, on January 10, 17, and 27 and February 17.
During these transactions, several of the defendants informed the undercover that they could supply additional firearms in South Carolina and would barter the weapons for cocaine. The undercover told the defendants that he had a connection that could provide the drugs.
On March 15, in South Carolina, the undercover met with HOLLIDAY and ADAMS to trade a kilogram of prop cocaine for the firearms. Before this meeting, the subjects were observed receiving a package from a minivan occupied by two brothers, JAMES, age 26 and CURTIS, age 22 CLARK, both of whom reside in Sumter, S.C. Once they arrived at the meeting, HOLLIDAY and ADAMS produced 6 guns, which they tried to use as partial payment for the prop cocaine. The subjects also called JAMES CLARK to take part in the negotiations because he owned the firearms. HOLLIDAY and ADAMS were then arrested by members of the Task Force cover teams and the firearms were seized. The minivan was then stopped and both CLARK’s were detained. Inside the minivan, agents discovered a loaded gun and a receipt indicating that CURTIS CLARK had purchased five of the seized guns earlier that same day.
Federal firearms records disclosed that CURTIS CLARK had also purchased at least two of the firearms which HOLLIDAY had previously sold to the undercover in Brooklyn. The CLARK’s were both placed under arrest and were charged with federal firearms violations.
Later that same night, defendant ELLIS was arrested in the backyard of his trailer. A search of the trailer yielded a loaded 9mm pistol and drug paraphernalia. A second search warrant was executed at ELLIS’s nearby residence, which resulted in the seizure of a .380 caliber pistol and a quantity of cocaine.
The defendant JOHNSON was arrested on March 17 in New York City. As of this time, defendant GIBSON remains at large.
The second investigation also began in January of 2006. In this case, STANLEY PARKS, age 36 of Sumter, S.C., obtained least 23 firearms in South Carolina in order to resell them to an undercover in New York. The undercover, who is a detective with the NYPD’s Queens Narcotics Squad, purchased a total of 8 firearms from PARKS on three separate occasions before the ATF was involved in the investigation. When Queens Narcotics realized they were dealing with interstate firearms traffickers, they contacted the Joint Firearms Task Force.
The undercover then conducted three more meetings with PARKS in Queens, N.Y., and purchased a total of 11 more firearms. On February 21, 2006, PARKS and his girlfriend DAWN MARIE JENKINS, age 33 of Sumter, S.C., arrived at N.Y. City’s Penn Station en route to a seventh meeting with the undercover. They were arrested at the station by Task Force personnel and were in possession of 4 firearms.
During the investigation of PARKS, it was ascertained that he is a convicted felon and therefore barred by federal law from purchasing firearms. The investigation revealed that many of the firearms purchased by the undercover in New York had been purchased in South Carolina by JENKINS, as well as LORENZO JUSTIN RAMSEY, age 25, and JUSTIN HAMPTON, age 23, both of Sumter, S.C. On March 14, during the operation in South Carolina, RAMSEY and HAMPTON were arrested and charged with being “Straw Purchasers.” ATF Multiple Sales Records and PARKS’s statements indicate that these “Straws” were responsible for purchasing, in South Carolina, at least 12 of the above-mentioned 23 firearms, as well as numerous other firearms.
Both investigations are part of “Project Safe Neighborhoods,” which is a nationwide gun violence reduction initiative of the Department of Justice in collaboration with the ATF. These investigations exemplify the success of Project Safe Neighborhoods in emphasizing cooperation and coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
SAC McMahon stated, “Both of these investigations were quick, pre-emptive strikes at gun runners who try to flood our streets with illegal weapons. By quickly tracing these purchased weapons, we were able to track the entire organization; from Straw Purchasers to Traffickers to the Sellers. Gone are the days of long term investigations and multiple gun buys. With the technology developed over the past decade, ATF’s top priority in illegal firearms trafficking is now interdiction at the point of origin. This can only be accomplished by quickly tracing crime guns to their origin and this is how we plan to keep illegal guns from the hands of criminals.”
SAC McMahon thanked the ATF Charlotte Field Division and in particular the ATF Columbia, S.C. Area Office, the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for their invaluable assistance during the recent arrest and search warrants.
U.S. Attorney Mauskopf stated, “Illegal gun traffickers are motivated only by greed, and in their business, they have reckless disregard for the safety of our police, our special agents and our children. Criminal entrepreneurs who endanger our communities will feel the full weight of the law, and together we will continue to do all that is necessary to stop illegal gun trafficking and ensure the safety of our neighborhoods.” Ms. Mauskopf thanked Reginald I. Lloyd, the United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina, for his Office’s outstanding assistance in the South Carolina aspects of the investigation, and added that the investigation was continuing.
New York State Director of Criminal Justice Chauncey G. Parker said, "For more than a decade Governor Pataki has been providing critical resources that give local law enforcement officials the tools they need to keep New Yorkers safe. By building a partnership with the New York State Police and the federal and local investigators, Governor Pataki has once again ensured that our law enforcement is given every possible resource the state has to offer and more. We know that our crime-fighting strategies are most effective when our federal, state and local officers work side-by-side. And today, we are seeing the results of our efforts. I want to commend all of the investigators who tracked these illegal guns from the streets of New York to the sources in South Carolina. It is because of their hard work and dedication that New Yorkers will face less gun violence.”
Superintendent Bennett stated, “The cooperative multi-state efforts of the ATF’s Joint Firearms Task force, including the New York City Police Department, South Carolina Law Enforcement, and the State Police Gun Investigations Unit has resulted the arrests of ten defendants and eradication of an unscrupulous gun and drug trafficking network between South Carolina and New York. These efforts are an integral part of protecting our communities and neighborhoods from the crimes and associated terrors that come with the illegal possession of weapons and drug trafficking.”
Commissioner Kelly said We’ve posted a ‘Keep Out’ sign in New York City. It applies to the Ohio gun traffickers, gun traffickers we arrested last month and to the South Carolinians arrested in this operation. The message is simple: Don’t sell guns here.”
Ten of the defendants were indicted yesterday on charges of conspiracy, firearms trafficking, and illegal possession of firearms by a convicted felon. The charges in the complaints and indictments are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, HOLLIDAY, ELLIS, JAMES CURTIS, and PARKS face prisons terms of up to ten years’ incarceration. ADAMS, GIBSON, JOHNSON, HAMPTON, RAMSEY, and CURTIS CLARK face prison terms of up to five years’ incarceration.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Bitkower.
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