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Press Release

Ringleader of Multi-State Gun Trafficking Scheme Sentenced to More Than 10 Years in Prison

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

NEW BERN, N.C. – The ringleader of a multi-state gun trafficking scheme was sentenced today to 127 months in prison for illegally trafficking more than 100 guns bought by straw purchasers in Eastern North Carolina.  Jacintre Holley of Middletown, Connecticut, pled guilty to engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of the drug trafficking crime.  Holley, 26, pled guilty on July 7, 2022. 

“Dangerous felons who are blocked from legally buying guns are turning to gun traffickers and straw purchasers in North Carolina to supply them with the tools to kill,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “The criminal conduct in this case put guns bought in Eastern North Carolina in the hands of a killer in Connecticut – within 6 days. This case shows exactly why Attorney General Garland and ATF Director Dettelbach have made stopping gun trafficking a top priority.  We and the ATF are relentlessly pursuing violent felons and the gunrunners and straw purchasers who arm them.” 

“A federal firearms license is required for anyone engaged in the business of selling firearms,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims. “Individuals selling without a license often means firearms end up in the wrong hands. By identifying and apprehending those involved in illegal firearms sales, we disrupt the firearms trafficking networks and better protect our communities.”

According to documents and other information presented in court, Holley bought over 100 firearms from straw purchasers in North Carolina—including at least 37 from codefendant Keshawn Squire and another 34 from codefendants Jasnika Craig and Shyheim Williams.  Craig and Williams were romantic partners living together in Williamston, North Carolina.  Ten of these firearms were recovered in separate investigations in Connecticut and New Jersey, including a murder investigation and several drug investigations. 

This gun trafficking investigation began when the Middletown, Connecticut Police Department recovered a Taurus 9mm pistol used in a murder.  A trace of the gun’s serial number showed that Keshawn Squire purchased the firearm in North Carolina on May 10, 2021, only six days before the murder.  Trace records for Squire further showed that he had purchased at least 16 firearms in the five months between December 13, 2020, and May 29, 2021, suggesting potential gun trafficking. 

Surveillance video from Smokin' Barrel Gun and Ammo in Raleigh, where Squire had purchased the Taurus, showed that he made a phone call from the store parking lot immediately after buying the firearm.  Call records revealed that he called a Connecticut phone number.  By comparing phone records and data from a mobile payment application, investigators were able to link the Connecticut phone number to defendant Jacintre Holley.  Records also revealed that Squire and Holley had as a mutual contact a phone number associated with codefendants Jasnika Craig and Shyheim Williams. 

Trace records for Craig showed that she made over 20 firearm purchases in North Carolina since 2020.  Law enforcement recovered one of those guns at a crime scene in Connecticut within five days of its purchase.  Investigators obtained video surveillance from Academy Sports in Greenville for purchases by Craig on May 11 and 14, 2021.  The May 14 footage shows Craig and Williams arrive in the same car.  Williams then went alone into the store for 25 minutes while Craig waited in the car.  Then Craig entered and immediately bought two pistols. 

On July 8, 2021, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety conducted a probation search at Williams’ and Craig’s Williamston home.  Williams was on state probation for a driving while impaired conviction.  Officers found seven firearms hidden in the home. 

Craig agreed to a recorded interview and admitted to selling firearms.  She said she sold firearms for a significant premium over market price and had purchased them from various locations including Academy Sports.  Williams identified the guns she should buy and set up the deals, which took place in Craig’s car in their driveway.  She admitted that almost all firearms went to Holley, who she estimated had come from Connecticut every two weeks since December 2020 to buy around seven firearms each time.  In total, Craig estimated that she had sold around 100 firearms to Holley. 

Also on July 8, 2021, law enforcement executed a search warrant for Squire’s telephone and interviewed Squire at his home.  Squire admitted to selling multiple firearms to Holley in at least three meetings beginning in March 2021.  He said he did this as a business and sold the firearms for significantly higher than the purchase price. 

On July 31, 2021, the Greenville Police Department located Holley driving on University Suites Drive and conducted a traffic stop based on an outstanding warrant.  Officers searched the car and found a Glock 19 pistol with an extended magazine in a bookbag in the front seat.  The pistol had been modified to function as a fully automatic machine gun.  In an iPhone box within the same bag, officers found 109 grams of cocaine, a digital scale with white residue, a Glock magazine, over $13,000, and a key to a room at a Quality Inn.  Officers obtained and executed a search warrant for the hotel room, where they found a Glock .40 caliber pistol.  A trace of Glock .40 revealed that Jasnika Craig had purchased it. 

Investigators interviewed Holley after his arrest.  He confirmed that he had bought firearms from Squire and Williams multiple times over the previous several months and sold those firearms in Connecticut.  He admitted to possessing the Glock from the hotel room, claimed that he carried the automatic Glock machine gun in his car for protection, admitted buying the cocaine while in North Carolina.  He acknowledged sometimes receiving cocaine as payment in firearm transactions.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) field offices in Raleigh, NC, New Haven, CT and Hartford, CT investigated the case, with assistance from the Middletown, CT Police Department, the Martin County, NC Sheriff’s Office, the NC Department of Probation Services and the Williamston, NC and Greenville, NC Police Departments.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake D. Pugh prosecuted the case.

The court previously sentenced Squire and Craig after they each pled guilty to one count of making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm.  On February 14, 2023, Craig received a 24-month sentence for that offense, and Squire received an 18-month sentence the same day.  Shyheim Williams was arrested federally on February 9, 2023, and his arraignment is set for the April 11, 2023, term of court.

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. 4:22-cr-0019-FL.


Updated February 23, 2023

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses