DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Texas

For Immediate Release

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Erin Nealy Cox
, United States Attorney
Contact: Erin Dooley

Man Sentenced to 17 Years for Gun Crimes Under Project Guardian

A firearms trafficker was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison after authorities tracked him down following an armed robbery, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

The woman who acted as his getaway driver him was sentenced this week to five years in federal prison.

Jesse Bell, 26, pleaded guilty in July to being a felon in possession of a firearm, interference with commerce by robbery, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

Cierra Washington, 27, pleaded guilty in September to interference with commerce by robbery.

In plea papers, Mr. Bell – a formerly convicted felon – admitted that he and a coconspirator robbed a Valero gas station at gunpoint in June.

A store clerk, who was struck in the head with a pistol during the altercation, slipped a tracking device into the cash he handed over to Mr. Bell. Law enforcement used it to locate the car in which they fled, which led police on a high speed chase until hitting a curb.

Inside the truck, officers found a bag filled with the cash and tracker from the robbery as well as two firearms and an identification card belonging to Mr. Bell.

Police apprehended Ms. Washington, who was pregnant at the time of the robbery, immediately after she jumped out of the driver’s seat. They apprehended Mr. Bell weeks later.  

At Mr. Bell’s sentencing hearing, the prosecutor revealed that despite the probation against convicted felons possessing firearms, he sold an undercover agent several firearms over the course of a few months.

“This case clearly demonstrates violent offenders shouldn’t be allowed to carry firearms – much less sell them,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “The Northern District of Texas, working hand-in-hand with ATF, is committed to prosecuting gun crimes under Project Guardian, the Attorney General’s gun violence reduction initiative.”

“ATF has made firearms trafficking and keeping illegal firearms out of the hands of violent offenders its top priority in the Dallas metroplex. This demonstrates the level of violence that several individuals can cause within our communities. Dallas is safer with them behind bars,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II.

The case was brought under Project Guardian, the Justice Department’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence using federal firearm laws.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives conducted the investigation with assistance from the Mesquite Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cara Foos Pierce is prosecuting the case.

Dallas Field Division