Group sentenced for trafficking firearms
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Georgia
ATLANTA – Clairvorn Kelly, the final defendant among a trio of indicted firearms traffickers, has been sentenced for conspiring to straw purchase firearms, illegal dealing in firearms, unlawfully transferring firearms to an out of state resident, and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number. Co-defendants Jahziah Roy Lewis and Deja Bess have previously been sentenced for their roles in the criminal scheme.
“Straw purchasers of firearms, like these defendants, facilitate the transfer of weapons to felons and impede the efforts of law enforcement officers to stem the tide of illegal firearms in U.S. cities and abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “We will continue leveraging our partnerships with ATF, BIS, HSI, and state and local law enforcement partners, to disrupt the illegal flow of weapons onto our streets.”
“This case and ultimate conviction highlights the fact that illegal gun trafficking not only affects our local communities but has implications far beyond our borders,” said ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Beau Kolodka. “At a time in which our ports, are seeing unprecedented traffic, this case highlights the need for ATF and our partners to be vigilant in investigating and prosecuting individuals who supply the illegal arms trade.”
"Illegally exporting firearms from the United States is a serious violation of our nation’s export control laws and can have dire consequences abroad,” said Nasir Khan, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, Miami Field Office. “Disrupting trafficking networks is a priority for OEE Special Agents. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to prevent firearms from potentially falling into the wrong hands overseas.”
“HSI’s work to prevent the smuggling of illegal weapons, and their associated violence, protects communities around the globe,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “HSI and its law enforcement partners are committed to catching and prosecuting those involved in this illegal trade.”
According to U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court: Between February 18, 2017, and May 14, 2020, Clairvorn Kelly, a St. Kitts and Nevis citizen, along with his two accomplices, Jahziah Roy Lewis and Deja Bess, engaged in an international weapons trafficking conspiracy to purchase and illegally export approximately 36 firearms from the United States to the United Kingdom and the Caribbean via the U.S. Postal Service. Multiple firearms purchased by the defendants in Georgia were recovered in the United Kingdom and St. Kitts and tied to various criminal networks abroad.
At the time of the firearm purchases, Kelly, Lewis, and Bess conspired to, and did, complete firearms sales in which they falsely claimed to be the actual buyers of the firearms when they knew that they were buying the guns for someone else. Kelly then obliterated serial numbers on the firearms. The defendants illegally exported the weapons abroad.
U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash sentenced each of the defendants as follows:
- Clairvorn Kelly, 25, of St. Kitts and Nevis, was sentenced for of four years, three months of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Kelly was convicted of conspiring to straw purchase firearms, illegal dealing in firearms, unlawfully transferring firearms to an out of state resident, and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
- Jaziah Roy Lewis, 30, of Saint Kitts and Nevis, was sentenced on September 14, 2021, to four years, nine months of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Lewis pleaded guilty to conspiring to straw purchase firearms, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, exporting firearms outside the United States, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
- Deja Bess, 25, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced on November 15, 2021, to three years of probation. Bess pleaded guilty to one count of straw purchasing a firearm.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Bureau of Industry and Security, and the Department of Homeland Security, with assistance from the United States Postal Service and the United Kingdom National Crime Agency, investigated this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dash A. Cooper prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). In keeping with the Attorney General’s mission to reduce violent crime, the Northern District of Georgia’s PSN program focuses on prosecuting those individuals who most significantly drive violence in our communities, and supports and fosters partnerships between law enforcement and schools, the faith community, and local community leaders to prevent and deter future criminal conduct.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.
Updated March 15, 2022
Project Safe Neighborhoods