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Press Release

Gun Supplier to Warring Gangs in Columbus Pleads Guilty to Theft of Firearms

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

A gun supplier who was stealing firearms from area pawn shops to sell to warring criminal street gangs in the Columbus community entered a guilty plea for his crimes in federal court last week, along with two co-defendants.

Joshua Holland aka “Lou,” 24, of Columbus, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of firearms from a federal firearms licensee and faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count; co-defendants James David Lowery, 28, of Columbus, and Jerry Starks aka “John Hill,” 31, of Columbus, both pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit theft of firearms from a federal firearms licensee and face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The pleas were entered on Tuesday, Feb. 27. U.S. District Judge Clay Land is presiding over the cases. Sentencing dates will be determined by the Court. The defendants are not eligible for parole.

“Our office has zero tolerance for individuals caught supplying violent criminal organizations with firearms and will pursue federal charges for gun traffickers,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “As exhibited in this Project Safe Neighborhoods’ case, making our streets safer and holding individuals accountable for their crimes requires the partnership of law enforcement and community stakeholders at every level.”

“The unlawful acquisition and selling of firearms are serious crimes that feed and intensify the violence that plagues so many communities," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Beau Kolodka. "This investigation illustrates the collective resolve of ATF and our law enforcement partners working together to make a safer community.”

According to court documents, Holland admitted to stealing firearms from area businesses in 2022 to sell to warring criminal street gangs in Columbus, including the Zohannon and the Marlo organizations. On Aug. 9, 2022, at approximately 1:35 a.m., Holland and his co-conspirators burglarized the Northside Money Mizer Pawn Shop on Manchester Expressway in Columbus. One of the burglars crashed a stolen car through the front door of the store. Holland entered the business and stole five firearms, while other co-conspirators assisted by carrying the stolen guns or acting as lookouts. Holland and the others ran away; some of the burglars were picked up by another car and driven away. On Sept. 7, 2022, around 1:46 a.m., Holland and his co-conspirators forced entry into A Better Pawn on 2nd Ave in Columbus and stole 19 firearms. On Sept. 16, 2022, the Money Mizer Pawn shop in Phenix City, Alabama, was burglarized by Holland and five others, who forced entry into the store and stole eight firearms. Holland and two others were captured and taken into custody by Phenix City Police Department officers.

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.

This case was investigated by Columbus Police Department, Phenix City Police Department and ATF.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Williams is prosecuting the case for the Government.

Updated March 8, 2024

Topics
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses