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Press Release

Armed Career Criminal Facilitating the Sale of Firearms to Juveniles Sentenced to 18 Years

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. – A Zebulon man was sentenced to 216 months in prison for illegally selling guns to juveniles. On April 13, 2023, Braxton Benton, age 34, pled guilty to engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license and aiding and abetting along with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. He has previous convictions for several common law robberies and drug violations.

“Trafficking guns to kids is a fast-track to federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley of the Eastern District of North Carolina.  “This felon got a straw purchaser to buy guns and report them stolen, then he sold them to juveniles.  Guns bought at a North Carolina Cabela’s turned up on a kid in Connecticut in less than a month.  We are bringing federal resources to target the gunrunners and straw purchasers arming children and fueling violence in our communities. ” 

According to court documents and other information presented in court, Benton’s codefendant, Takara Wilson, reported the theft of five handguns  from her car November 10, 2021 and claimed that the guns had been taken on October 28, 2021, but she had been too busy to report the theft. An investigation into the reported theft found that Wilson had purchased three of the guns from a Cabela’s in Garner on November 6, 2021, over a week after Wilson claimed they had been stolen. 

Surveillance video from the store showed Benton with Wilson together. On December 3, 2021, two of the firearms that Wilson reported stolen were found during the search of a juvenile’s residence in New Haven, Connecticut based on the juvenile being involved in multiple incidents involving firearms over a three-month period. The investigation revealed that Benton had used Wilson to purchase several firearms for him that he later sold without a license. On January 18, 2022, during a traffic stop, Benton was found in possession of 28 grams of marijuana and a loaded, Polymer80 “Ghost Gun” that was neither registered nor contained a serial number, making it extremely difficult to trace. There were also text messages on Benton’s phone indicating he was attempting to sell the Polymer80 gun.   

Takara Wilson was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release for engaging in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms without a license on June 16, 2023.

The indictment of both Wilson and Benton was originally announced in July of 2022 as part of the Raleigh Violent Crime Action Plan (VCAP). VCAP is an approach that draws on close partnerships among federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as the community, to combat violence.  The initiative brings state and federal prosecutors together to prioritize the review of gun crime cases and identify and prosecute repeat offenders and criminal organizations as well as identifying and stopping the sources of guns.  Law enforcement partners use inter-agency coordination and intelligence-led policing, analyzing crime data to deploy resources where they are most needed and leveraging federal Task Force officers to bring federal technology to address local gun violence.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Raleigh Police Department investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Foxx  prosecuted the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:22-CR-153-1D.

Updated December 19, 2023

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