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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Three People Charged in Interstate Gun Trafficking Conspiracy

NEWARK, N.J. – A New Jersey man and two men from South Carolina have been charged with conspiring to illegally sell firearms, including five pistols and one rifle, in and around Essex County, New Jersey, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced today.

Torell Brown, 45, of Orangeburg, South Carolina, Carter Wilkerson, 21, of Orangeburg, South Carolina, and Mark Washington, 57, of Irvington, New Jersey, are each charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to engage in the busines of unlicensed firearms dealing. Brown and Washington are each additionally charged with one count of possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon. 

Brown, Wilkerson, and Washington were arrested May 18, 2021, and appeared by videoconference today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer. Brown and Washington were detained; Wilkerson was released on $100,000 unsecured bond.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From April 2021 through May 18, 2021, Brown, Wilkerson, and Washington were members of a drug trafficking conspiracy. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Brown and Wilkerson trafficked six firearms and a large quantity of ammunition, with the intent to sell these weapons to at least one New Jersey resident. On May 18, 2021, Washington attempted to thwart law enforcement from recovering certain of these firearms.

The count of conspiracy to engage in the business of unlicensed firearms dealing carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The counts of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This case is being conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents and task force officers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark Division, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Craig B. Kailimai, and special agents and task force officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensured that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian .

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey E. Zyriek Enriquez, of the Violent Crimes Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Francesca Liquori, of the Organized Crime and Gangs Unit.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Project Guardian
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
21-224
Updated May 19, 2021