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Press Release

EDNC Prosecuted 281 Illegal Firearms Offenders and Forfeited 249 Illegal Firearms in 2023

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

RALEIGH, N.C. – Today, United States Attorney Michael Easley announced that over the course of 2023, his office prosecuted 281 illegal firearm offenders resulting in the forfeiture of at least 249 illegally owned, possessed, used, or obtained firearms. Firearms that are criminally forfeited are removed from the possession of a convicted criminal defendant and relinquished to the government for disposal, including potentially the return of stolen firearm to rightful owners.

“We are meeting violent crime head on – prosecuting violent offenders and taking guns out of the hands of the most dangerous felons,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “Through our strong partnership with local, state and federal law enforcement, our violet crime action plan puts us shoulder to shoulder with local law enforcement to target the serial trigger pullers and armed drug traffickers driving violence in our communities.”

Since the start of 2023, EDNC charged approximately 281 defendants with federal firearms offenses, including possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, and straw purchasing of a firearm. These prosecutions are a result of close cooperation between prosecutors and partners at federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). EDNC also partners with the State Bureau of Investigation, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, and local police and sheriffs across the District.

EDNC’s efforts to seize and forfeit illegal firearms in 2023 was the result of multiple investigative and prosecutorial efforts, including the Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) and the Violent Crime Action Plan (VCAP) initiative which are both collaborative efforts with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, working with the community, to identify and address the most significant drivers of violent crime, and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which works to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

“We’ve seen that collaborative efforts to address gun violence can make a significant impact,” said Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims. “Through proactive strategies, cooperative partnerships, and relentless efforts to protect our communities, we’re recovering thousands of firearms each year and addressing violent gun crime with every resource we have available.”

“Every day the FBI battles alongside our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners against violent crime in our communities. One way we make our streets safer is to take guns out of the hands of those who cannot legally have them," said Robert M. DeWitt the FBI Special Agent in Charge in North Carolina.

“Driven by greed, these violent criminals’ activities posed a significant threat in our communities,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Division. “The success of these investigations demonstrates that the DEA will use all of its resources to destroy violent drug distribution networks.”

“The success of these investigations is a direct result of the collaborative effort between all facets of law enforcement and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and is a testament to HSI’s tireless efforts to prevent the use of illegal weapons to terrorize communities both domestically and internationally,” said Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Charlotte that covers North and South Carolina. “HSI and its law enforcement partners are committed to identifying, investigating and prosecuting organizations involved in these crimes to better safeguard society, as a whole.” 

Some of the major firearms-related cases prosecuted by EDNC in 2023 include:

Violent Fayetteville Pimp and Drug Dealer Sentenced to More Than 32 Years in Prison for Kidnapping, Drug and Gun Offenses.   Yomere Busbee trafficked woman, sold drugs, and possessed firearms, resulting in 32 years in federal prison.  (Case No. 5:20-CR-00393-M)

Rocky Mount Blood Gang Leader Sentenced for Drug Trafficking and COVID-19 Fraud. Tyrone Foreman aka Ty Nitty was the leader of a violent drug trafficking organization in Rocky Mount that regularly carried firearms. He was sentenced to 30 years. In this operation, more than 20 guns were seized. (Case No. 5:21-CR-289-D-1)

Convicted Fayetteville Fentanyl Dealer Sentenced to More Than 20 Years in Prison. Jarrell Bordeaux was convicted at trial. He distributed fentanyl and heroin to a confidential informant, and then multiple firearms were found in his possession during the execution of search warrants.  (Case No.5:20-cr-00428-M)

Wendell Armed Robber Targeting Aldi Grocery Stores Sentenced to Nearly 30 Years in Prison. Lionel Robinson got 30 years for targeting and robbing Aldi grocery stores at gun point.  (Case No. 5:21-cr-00017-FL)

Armed Robber Sentenced to More Than 38 Years in Federal Prison.  Frank McCree was sentenced to more than 38 years after a string of robberies in Robeson County. (Case No. 7:17-cr-00134-FL-1)

Armed Career Criminal Who Shot Fayetteville Pawn Shop Owner Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison.  Armed Career criminal Mario Whitted was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 45 years after he shot a pawn shop owner in Fayetteville.  (Case No. 7:21-CR-87-BO)

Career Offender Who Led Authorities on a High-Speed Chase on I-95 Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison.  A jury convicted Nazeer Vick of gun and drug charges after he led police on a dangerous 30-mile highspeed chase through three counties on I-95. (Case No. 5:20-cr-00485-D)

Leader of Craven County Armed Drug Organization Trafficking Methamphetamine and Fentanyl Sentenced To 35 Years. Ivan Medina-Beltran received a 35-year sentence for leading an armed methamphetamine and fentanyl trafficking organization. During search warrants, firearms were seized. (Case No. 4:22-cr-00075-D-1)

Convicted Murderer Sentenced to 30 Years for Fentanyl Distribution. Aaron Goode was convicted of heroin, fentanyl, and 922(g) offenses. Goode was confirmed to be a large-scale fentanyl supplier. Goode was found with firearms, body armor, currency, and a hydraulic press to package drugs. (Case No. 5:21-CR-334-D)

Eight Time Prior Drug Felon Sentenced to 300 Months for Armed Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Trafficking. Montrel Rhone was distributing fentanyl, para-fluorofentanyl, and methamphetamine. During a search warrant, agents found two guns. Defendant tried to flush drug evidence down the toilet. Defendant had eight prior felony drug convictions. (Case No. 5:21-CR-280-D-1)

Armed Career Criminal Facilitating the Sale of Firearms to Juveniles Sentenced to 18 Years.  Braxton Benton and his codefendant, Takara Wilson, were engaged in a straw purchasing scheme that put guns in the hands of juveniles. (Case No. 5:22-CR-153-1D)

A copy of this press release is located on our website. 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 the case number.


Updated January 26, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime