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Press Release

More Results Announced in Beckley-to-Philadelphia Firearms Trafficking Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

BECKLEY, W.Va. – Denise Johnson, 25, of Beckley, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to travel interstate with the intent to engage in dealing firearms without a license while Terri Lawhorn, 28, of Fayetteville, was sentenced today to two years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for making false statements in acquisition of firearms. Each admitted to a role in a conspiracy to traffic over 140 firearms from the Beckley area to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between early 2020 and mid-2021, Johnson recruited various individuals in the Beckley area to buy firearms for co-defendants Bisheem Jones, also known as “Bosh,” Derrick Woodard, also known as “D,” Shyheem Woodard-Smith, also known as “Peanut” and “Nut,” and Hassan Abdullah, also known as “San.” Johnson admitted that she knew these recruited straw purchasers would falsely certify on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Federal Firearms Transaction Record Form 4473 that they were purchasing the firearms for themselves when they knew they were buying them for Jones, Woodard and the others.

Johnson further admitted to sometimes accompanying the straw purchasers to gun stores within the Southern District of West Virginia to obtain firearms as part of this scheme. Johnson also sometimes helped deliver acquired firearms to Jones, Woodard, and the others.

Lawhorn was among the straw purchasers. Lawhorn admitted to buying a Glock 44 .22-caliber pistol; a Glock 43 9mm pistol; and a Glock 42 .380-caliber pistol for Jones from a gun dealer in Mount Hope on December 23, 2020. Lawhorn further admitted to buying at least three additional firearms as part of the trafficking conspiracy.

Of the over 140 trafficked firearms, approximately 45 have been recovered at crime scenes primarily in Philadelphia and have been connected to two homicides, crimes of domestic violence, and other violent offenses.

“This office is determined to stem the violence fueled by the illegal trafficking of firearms,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is to be commended for its investigative work in this case. I also commend Assistant United States Attorney Negar M. Kordestani, who has secured 18 guilty pleas related to this case.”

Woodard, Woodard-Smith and Abdullah previously pleaded guilty to interstate travel with the intent to engage in dealing firearms without a license. Lawhorn is among seven co-defendants who have pleaded guilty to making false statements in acquisition of firearms. An additional seven individuals have pleaded guilty to firearms offenses related to the same interstate gun trafficking conspiracy.

Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 3, 2023, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

United States District Judge Frank W. Volk presided over the hearings.

Jones and co-conspirator Shakyrah Ross are scheduled for trial on November 29, 2022. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:22-cr-46.




Updated November 17, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses