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Press Release

Rocky Mount Man Arrested for Illegally Selling Firearms Stolen Guns and High-Capacity Rifles Seized

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

RALEIGH, N.C. – A Rocky Mount man was arrested today on charges of dealing firearms without a federal firearms license and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number. If convicted, Antonio Joseph Santos, 49, faces a maximum penalty of 120 months.

“Our violent crime strategy in Rocky Mount is focused on bringing those contributing to violent crimes to swift justice and getting illegal guns off the streets,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “Our close collaboration and partnership across federal, state and local law enforcement enables us to move quickly to bring charges when they are warranted.”

“ATF is committed to keeping firearms out of the hands of prohibited individuals,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims. “We’ll continue to support the collaborative efforts of our local, state, and federal partners to stop illegal firearms sales.”

“My appreciation goes to the US Attorney’s Office and ATF for working so closely with the Nash County Sheriff’s Office, Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office, and the Rocky Mount Police Department.  This case is an example of how partnerships between agencies make our communities safer,” commented Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone.  “As we have always done, we will continue to fight the guns, gangs, and drugs in our communities.”

Edgecombe County Sheriff Cleveland Atkinson stated, “It is always great when agencies can partner together.  It's even greater when these partnerships span across several counties to disrupt and prevent criminal activity.”

"The Rocky Mount Police Department will continue to work with our local, state, and federal partners to make our city safer,” said Police Chief Robert Hassell. “Through our partnerships, we will continue to conduct investigations to identify those involved directly or indirectly with illegal gun use, possession, and sales. In addition, we will continue placing more resources on dealing with gun violence in our city."

According to court documents, between May and July 2022, Santos, 49, sold eight (8) firearms illegally to a confidential informant employed by law enforcement in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Of the eight (8) firearms, one (1) had an obliterated serial number, two (2) had an extended or high-capacity magazine, and two (2) were previously reported stolen. Federal and local agents also surveilled Santos traveling to a storage unit facility in Rocky Mount prior to the various firearm transactions.

On July 8, 2022, agents executed search warrants at Santos’ residence and his storage unit. Inside Santos’ residence, law enforcement located an additional two (2) firearms: one (1) AR-style rifle with a high-capacity magazine and one (1) AK-style rifle that did not bear a serial number. At Santos’ storage unit, law enforcement located an additional four (4) firearms: three (3) rifles and one (1) revolver. One (1) of these firearms was previously reported stolen. Agents also found assorted ammunition and magazines, and pistol conversion kits.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Nash County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO), Rocky Mount Police Department (RMPD), and Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) are investigating the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aakash Singh is prosecuting the case.

Related court documents and information are located 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-MJ-1656-BM.

A(n) indictment/criminal complaint is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Updated July 14, 2022

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