For Immediate Release
Fort Myers Felon Sentenced to Fifteen Years in Federal Prison for Firearms and Drug Offenses
Fort Myers, Florida – U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Barber today sentenced Shauntavus Berklin (34, Fort Myers) to 15 years in federal prison for possessing firearms as a convicted felon and distributing fentanyl. The court also ordered Berklin to forfeit the firearms he illegally had possessed. Berklin had pleaded guilty to the charges, which were contained in two indictments, on July 14, 2022.
According to court documents, on October 16, 2020, deputies from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a hotel in Fort Myers where a car linked to a home invasion robbery was parked. The deputies linked the car to a hotel room occupied by Berklin and another suspect in the robbery and obtained a search warrant. During a search of the room, deputies discovered two loaded firearms hidden in a mattress box spring. Subsequent forensic analysis of the firearms linked one of the firearms to Berklin, who had recently been released from a 10-year prison sentence. As a convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.
Approximately three and a half months later, on January 30, 2021, detectives from the Fort Myers Police Department attempted to conduct a traffic stop of a rental vehicle they suspected was being driven by Berklin. Berklin fled from officers at a high rate of speed before crashing the vehicle in a residential neighborhood near downtown Fort Myers and escaping on foot. Inside the vehicle, officers located a loaded firearm and multiple baggies of fentanyl packaged for sale. DNA testing of the firearm later linked the firearm to Berklin, as did other personal items found in the car, including a receipt from his bail bondsman addressed to “Tweet” Berklin, his well-known nickname.
Berklin’s criminal activities continued in April 2021, during which time he twice sold fentanyl to an individual working with the Drug Enforcement Administration for $1,800. On each occasion, Berklin met with the individual in a parking lot of a local Fort Myers businesses and provided the informant with drugs while under constant surveillance by law enforcement.
These cases were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fort Myers Police Department. They were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Trenton Reichling and Michael V. Leeman.
These cases are 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 out 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 first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.