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Press Release

Jacksonville Convicted Murderer Sentenced To 20 Years In Federal Prison For Armed Drug Dealing

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Ronald Bernard Thomas, Jr. (44, Jacksonville) to 20 years in federal prison for selling methamphetamine while armed with two pistols. The two pistols used in the offense previously were administratively forfeited. Thomas had pleaded guilty on February 9, 2023.

According to court documents, Thomas, who used the street name “Gorilla,” had been convicted of second-degree murder in 2002 after he shot an unarmed man, killing him. Thomas was sentenced to 20 years in prison for that crime and released from prison in 2017. Beginning at least by August 2021, Thomas had begun selling drugs, including fentanyl and methamphetamine, out of Jacksonville-area hotels.  Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were able to obtain controlled purchases of drugs from Thomas on multiple occasions in 2021 and 2022. During some of the drug purchases, Thomas displayed his firearms on the table where he weighed out and packaged the drugs that he was selling. 

On July 28, 2022, agents conducted a traffic stop on Thomas’s vehicle and arrested him pursuant to a federal arrest warrant. Thomas had a loaded Glock 9mm pistol in his pants pocket. A search of his vehicle revealed a second loaded pistol, with loaded magazine, methamphetamine, pills, and suspected heroin and fentanyl, in addition to scales, whisks, spoons, and plastic baggies. Thomas has been detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since that time.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor.

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

Updated May 24, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses