For Immediate Release
Federal Prosecutors Remove 300 Illegal Firearms from Eastern Virginia During Fiscal Year 2023
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Today, Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), announced that over the course of the past fiscal year, EDVA’s litigative efforts resulted in the forfeiture of at least 312 illegally owned, possessed, used or obtained firearms, a 90% increase from last year. Firearms that are criminally forfeited are removed from the possession of a convicted criminal defendant and relinquished to the government for disposal, including potentially the return of the firearm to a rightful owner.
“Our priority is to enforce the nation’s firearm laws to keep our communities safe,” said Aber. “Our significant increase in firearm seizures is because we recognize that unlawful firearms terrorize communities. Forfeiting these firearms from convicted defendants ensures that these firearms can do no more harm.”
Since the start of 2023, EDVA has charged over 225 defendants with federal firearms offenses, including possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon and straw purchasing of a firearm. These successes are a result of close cooperation between prosecutors and partners at federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations. EDVA also partners with the state and local police and sheriffs across the district.
“Through our strong law enforcement partnerships in EDVA, ATF agents have tirelessly worked to prevent firearms from reaching the hands of violent criminals. We all see the devastation that gun violence causes in our communities. Last year our agents participated in numerous complex investigations that included armed drug traffickers, illegal possession of firearms and trafficking violations. ATF’s goal was to reduce violent crime by removing as many dangerous criminals from our streets as we could. This year we are uniquely positioned to maintain that momentum and will continue to work collectively with our partners to make our communities safer,” said Craig Kailimai, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Washington Field Office. “ATF will remain on the frontline against violence.”
“Every day the FBI and our federal, state, and local partners work toward our shared goal of combating violent crime," said Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Norfolk Field Office. “As we continue to combat violent crime with our law enforcement partners, it is imperative that we take guns out of the hands of those who cannot legally possess them. We are successful at this due to our partnerships and our commitment to show the return on investment to our partners by holding accountable those who endanger our neighborhoods for illegally possessing and using firearms. The communities our law enforcement partners serve deserve the right to feel safe and secure in their own homes and communities.”
“By seizing firearms from individuals who illegally buy, sell, use or possess them, law enforcement is better positioned to reduce gun violence in our neighborhoods,” said David Geist, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office's Criminal and Cyber Division. “Throughout 2023, the FBI collaborated with our federal, state, and local partners, as we do every year, to combat gun violence, and we'll continue to harness these resources for years to come to keep the communities that we serve safe.”
“The safety of those in our community is paramount to our collective efforts. Too often we see how firearms, as an added component to criminal activity, can be life-altering even fatal and shatter the lives of innocent victims, their families and communities,” said Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the Richmond Field Office. “As such, FBI Richmond pledges to continue working with our law enforcement and community partners to address violent crimes and hold criminals accountable.”
“The unlawful use of firearms is an enormous factor in a preponderance of the cases we investigate,” said Derek W. Gordon, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Washington, D.C. “Any time we are dealing with illegally possessed firearms, the threat to our special agents and to our residents increases exponentially. HSI Washington, D.C. will not relent in our efforts to keep all firearms out of the hands of those who are not legally allowed to own them.”
Cases prosecuted by EDVA this year include USA v. Taylor, in which Antonyo Taylor pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm connected to the homicide of a seven-year-old girl in Portsmouth; USA v. Harris, in which Deshan Harris was found carrying a firearm that had been used in two separate shootings in Richmond; USA v. Davis, et al, in which defendants Stanley Davis, Mantriel Reaves, and Jasiri Wynn pleaded guilty to a straw purchasing scheme where firearms were later recovered from individuals alleged to be involved in criminal activity; and USA v. Turner Sr., in which Anthony Gale Turner, a federally licensed dealer, was prosecuted for selling at least 49 firearms unlawfully,
EDVA’s efforts to seize and forfeit illegal firearms in 2023 was the result of multiple investigative and prosecutorial efforts, including Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which seeks to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them, and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), whose purpose 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.