Press Releases

South Carolina Man Pleads Guilty To Firearms Trafficking In Manhattan Federal Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday June 15, 2012

Fifth and Final Defendant to Plead Guilty for Trafficking Firearms from South Carolina
to New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joseph Anarumo Jr., the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), and Raymond W. Kelly, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that HAROLD BROWN pled guilty today to gun trafficking and firearms offenses for his role in trafficking dozens of semiautomatic firearms from South Carolina to Manhattan.  In connection with the investigation, agents from the ATF/NYPD Joint Firearms Task Force seized a total of 50 firearms.  BROWN pled guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman.  He is the fifth and final defendant charged in this conspiracy to enter a guilty plea.  

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Gun trafficking is a deadly serious business, and the weapons that this defendant and his co-conspirators were transporting and selling had the potential to maim and kill innocent people.  Thanks to this coordinated law enforcement effort, these firearms are off the streets of New York City and Brown and his fellow defendants will be punished. ”

ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Joseph Anarumo Jr. said: “This four month undercover investigation conducted by the ATF/NYPD Joint Firearms Task Force spanned several jurisdictions uncovering a firearms trafficking ring that was intent on arming the criminal element.  The unlawful purchasing and trafficking in firearms is a serious crime which feeds and amplifies the violence experienced in so many cities today.  I applaud the efforts of the agents, the undercover detectives and the aggressive prosecutors who brought these criminals to Justice.”

NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “Gun traffickers commit a worse crime than illegal sale and transport of firearms.  They provide an iron pipeline of deadly weapons – for their own selfish profit at the expense of often young lives – to criminals who in turn kill or maim innocent New Yorkers, and the police officers sworn to protect them.  The NYPD detectives and other investigators involved in this case work day-in and day-out to prevent gun-related violence at great risk to themselves, and they are to be commended.”

According to the Indictment, the Informations, and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made at the plea proceedings: 

BROWN and Lamel Simms, who have lived in both South Carolina and New York, purchased multiple firearms from Richard Spires and Lester Hubbard in South Carolina, and then transported the firearms to New York.  They then sold them at a premium to Lawrence Brown and others.  Brown, in turn, attempted to sell the firearms to other New York residents.  ATF agents working undercover and with cooperating witnesses purchased 29 firearms involved in the scheme from Lawrence Brown and others in Manhattan, and recovered an additional 21 firearms from a search of Spires’ residence in St. Matthews, South Carolina.  The firearms seized in connection with the investigation include five Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistols, seven Hi-Point semiautomatic pistols, two Bersa semiautomatic pistols, and multiple other firearms manufactured by Keltec, Ruger, Beretta, Glock, Taurus and Cobra. 

Some of the firearms purchased by HAROLD BROWN were paid for with counterfeit U.S. currency he created.

*              *             *

HAROLD BROWN, 27, of Columbia, South Carolina, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license, one count of trafficking in firearms, one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and one count of making counterfeit currency.  As a result, he faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.  He will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon.  The date has not yet been scheduled.   

Simms, 30, of Columbia, South Carolina, pled guilty on June 11, 2012 to one count of conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and one count of trafficking in firearms.  He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain on October 11, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.

Spires, 65, of St. Matthews, South Carolina, pled guilty on April 23, 2012 to one count of making material false statements in connection with the purchase of firearms.  He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and will be sentenced by Judge Victor Marrero on August 23, 2012.

Hubbard, 22, of Columbia, South Carolina, pled guilty on May 23, 2012 to one count of conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and one count of trafficking in firearms.  He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and will be sentenced by Judge Swain on October 11, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.

Lawrence Brown, 25, of Manhattan, New York, pled guilty on March 15, 2012 to one count of conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license, one count of trafficking in firearms, and one count of selling marijuana.  He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and will be sentenced by Judge George B. Daniels.  The date has not yet been scheduled. 

Mr. Bharara praised the ATF and the NYPD for their outstanding work in the investigation.

This matter is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew D. Goldstein is in charge of the prosecution.  

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