ATF-Led Investigation Leads to Arrest of 6 Accused of Illegal Firearms and Narcotic Sales in and around Compton
LOS ANGELES – Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other law enforcement authorities this morning arrested six people charged in three federal indictments that allege illegal firearms sales and drug distribution.
The arrests stem from an ATF-led investigation targeting the sale of guns in and around Compton and Mona Park in Willowbrook. During the course of the year-long investigation, authorities took more than 100 illegally trafficked firearms off the streets.
Those taken into custody today face various federal charges, including conspiracy, illegal firearm sales, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and trafficking in crack cocaine and PCP. Two other defendants named in the indictments are fugitives who are being sought by authorities. (A fourth grand jury indictment charges one defendant who also remains a fugitive, and that indictment will remain under seal until that defendant is taken into custody.)
“The illegal firearms trade fuels violence on the streets,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “If individuals prohibited from purchasing firearms can readily obtain them in an underground market, the challenge of reducing gun violence in our communities is much greater. As we work to stem violent crime in and around Compton, we will, therefore, target those who are sources of the firearms and narcotics that sustain these underground markets.”
“Today’s arrests are an example of ATF’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to combat violent crime and firearms trafficking,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Eric D. Harden. “The large number of firearms seized during this investigation represents a significant blow to criminal networks operating in and around Compton.”
The eight defendants are charged across three indictments that were recently returned by a federal grand jury. Those named in the four indictments unsealed this afternoon are:
In addition to the six arrested on federal charges, another three defendants were taken into custody this week on state charges.
Those arrested this morning are being arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
1. Jamie Maurice Thomas, 37, of South Los Angeles, who is a fugitive; Francisco Juantonio Hilt, also known as “Freebo,” 39, of Compton; and Sean Ronaldo Alexander, 37, of South Los Angeles, who are all charged with conspiracy, engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, and sale of a firearm to a prohibited person;
2. Tavon Dejuan Pickett, aka “Bucket,” 29, of Compton; RobertEnnis Goree, 41, of South Los Angeles, who remains a fugitive; and Leonard Smith, aka “Smoke,” 35, of South Los Angeles , who are charged with conspiracy; engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license; being a felon in possession of firearms; and
3. Gerald Tynes, aka “Milkman,” 59, of South Los Angeles, and Lekori Lee Terrance, aka “Slim,” 33, of Bellflower, who are charged with: conspiracy, engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, distribution of crack cocaine, distribution of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and distribution of PCP.
If convicted of all counts against them, the defendants would face statutory maximum sentences ranging from 20 years in federal prison for Terrance to as much as 310 years for Tynes.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The investigation that led to today’s arrests was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Los Angeles Police Department; the Long Beach Police Department; and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshals Task Force, and California Department of Children and Family Services Multi-Agency Response Team (MART) participated in today’s enforcement activity.
The cases announced today are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Susan J. DeWitt of the Violent and Organize Crime Section.