LAKEWOOD MEN SENTENCED TO LONG PRISON TERMS FOR GUN AND DRUG TRAFFICKING
Guns Purchased at Gun Shows Smuggled into Canada; Drugs Smuggled into U.S.
DONALD JAMAR LEWIS, 27, and FLENARD NEAL Jr., 25, both of Lakewood, Pierce County, Washington were sentenced today to long prison terms for a variety of gun and drug charges. While imposing sentence, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton noted that the pairs’ crimes did serious damage on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border.
LEWIS was sentenced to 195 months in prison (16 years, 3 months) and 5 years of supervised release for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Possession of Cocaine Base with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime.
NEAL was sentenced to 168 months in prison (14 years) and five years of supervised release for two counts of Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute, Possession of MDMA (Ecstasy) with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Cocaine Base with Intent to Distribute, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking. Both men entered guilty pleas on October 5, 2006.
According to documents filed in the case, NEAL first came to the attention of authorities when he purchased a large number of firearms in Yakima, Washington. Research by alert ATF agents revealed that NEAL had purchased 32 firearms while he had no record of any legitimate income. In addition, agents noted that NEAL had made 25 trips to Canada over a one year period. Further investigation revealed that NEAL was also purchasing numerous guns at gun shows where the transactions were not recorded or reported to authorities. NEAL was arrested on December 27, 2005 attempting to smuggle marijuana and nearly 500 ecstasy pills into the United States from Canada, hidden inside the doors of his car.
On January 6, 2006 authorities did a court authorized search of the apartment NEAL shared with LEWIS in Lakewood. They found numerous firearms scattered throughout the apartment, as well as crack cocaine and marijuana. They found digital scales and a vacuum sealer – tools of the drug trade. The apartment had been equipped with sophisticated surveillance cameras to watch for law enforcement activity. Agents also found bullet proof vests. In all agents recovered eight handguns, five rifles, and two short barreled shotguns. One of the handguns had been reported stolen in Houston, Texas. Photos of some of the weapons and drugs have been entered into evidence and are available on line in the court file, or by contacting ATF.
Canadian authorities provided significant assistance in the investigation. On January 15, 2006, Border Services Officers from the Canada Border Services Agency's Vancouver Mail Centre examined a package from Tacoma, Washington destined for an address in British Columbia. The officers selected the package for examination after an X-ray showed anomalies within the shipment. Inside the package, Border Services Officers found two loaded handguns, a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, and a Ruger SP101 .357, with their serial numbers filed off. Both guns were loaded with hollow-point ammunition. The information on the Canada Border Services Agency's seizure was then forwarded to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives .
At sentencing Judge Leighton said, “The implications of your actions we may never truly know. We hope that we never find a person was killed by one of the guns you trafficked up there (to Canada).” Judge Leighton also noted that the drugs the men distributed, “helped ruin the user’s lives and the lives of their families.”
“These men were smuggling firearms into Canada and trading them for drugs,” said Special Agent Agent in Charge, Kelvin N. Crenshaw, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “These sentences reflect the severe consequences of international arms trafficking.”
The case was investigated by the ATF, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Lakewood Police Department.
The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Kent Liu. Mr. Liu is a Deputy Pierce County Prosecutor specially designated to handle drug and gun cases in federal court.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110, or Julianne Marshall, Public Information Officer for ATF at (206) 510-5128, or Faith St. John, Communications Manager, Canada Border Services Agency at (604) 666-5492.