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Press Release

Latest Prison Sentence In Unprecedented Firearms Trafficking Operation

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

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Charles O’Bannon, 25, of Villa Rica, Georgia, was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment for his role in a multi-conspirator firearms trafficking operation that flooded the City of Philadelphia with 292 guns over the course of five months.

United States District Court Judge John M. Younge sentenced O’Bannon for his role in this unprecedented firearms trafficking operation, which involved hundreds of firearms being straw purchased from federal firearms dealers in Atlanta, Georgia, and then transported across state lines for resale on the black market in the City of Philadelphia. This fact pattern is known as the “iron pipeline.” Dozens of firearms have since been recovered by law enforcement at crime scenes and elsewhere. The conspiracy’s guns have taken the lives of two Philadelphians and used to perpetrate violent crime, including shootings, carjackings, and drug trafficking.

Judge Younge had previously sentenced O’Bannon’s conspirators as follows:

  • Edwin Burgos, 30, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the leader of the Philadelphia side of the firearms trafficking operation, was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment.
  • Fredrick Norman, 26, of Villa Rica, Georgia, the leader of the Atlanta side of the firearms trafficking operation, was sentenced to 99 months’ imprisonment.
  • Ernest Payton, 31, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 63 months’ imprisonment.
  • Kenneth Burgos, 24, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 75 months’ imprisonment.
  • Roger Millington, 27, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment.
  • Stephen Norman, 25, of Villa Rica, Georgia, and brother of Fredrick Norman, was sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment.

“An important piece of our commitment to stopping the illegal flow of guns through the ‘iron pipeline’ is charging crimes like straw purchasing,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “The substantial prison sentences each defendant received in this case demonstrate that straw purchasing will carry significant consequences.”

“The defendants in this case flooded 300 firearms onto the streets of Philadelphia, a city already plagued with gun violence,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Eric Degree. “We appreciate the support of the United States Attorney’s Office, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police, and members of our Firearms Trafficking Task Force, which allowed us to dismantle this firearm trafficking organization.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Priya T. De Souza.

Updated November 15, 2023