For Immediate Release
New Jersey Man Sentenced for Virginia-Based Gun-Trafficking Scheme
NORFOLK, Va. – A New Jersey man was sentenced today to 34 months in prison for conspiring to purchase firearms in Virginia and traffic them to New Jersey for resale on the streets.
“Clifton Walston admitted to trafficking multiple firearms from Virginia to New Jersey,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We will continue to use federal firearms laws to prosecute straw purchasers and hold them accountable for their role in trafficking illegally purchased firearms. Every straw purchased firearm is a gun that can wind up in the hands of a prohibited person. I want to commend the ATF for their commitment to investigating these important cases.”
According to court documents, Clifton K. Walston, aka “Moosky,” 32, of Jersey City, arranged for Virginia residents to obtain and traffic firearms from Virginia to New Jersey and sell the firearms in New Jersey to New Jersey residents for a profit. None of the conspirators was licensed to conduct interstate firearm transactions.
“ATF will continue to work diligently to uncover and expose firearms trafficking schemes such as we saw in this case as part of its mission to combat violent crime,” said Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division. “Gun traffickers are not simply committing paperwork violations. These criminals put guns in the hands of serious criminals who pose a significant threat to the safety of our communities. I’m incredibly proud of the outstanding investigative work put in by the agents and prosecutors to bring to justice these two criminals.”
In early October 2017, a Virginia associate contacted Walston and asked how to make some easy money. Walston knew that the associate was a convicted felon and was prohibited from possessing firearms, but still said that if the associate were to obtain firearms in Virginia, he would set the associate up with prospective buyers in New Jersey, where it is much more difficult to obtain firearms. The two would then profit from the resale.
Over the next several months, the two men conspired together to use a straw purchaser to traffick multiple firearms from Virginia to New Jersey, including at least one firearm that was recovered by law enforcement during a traffic stop.
Within weeks of that arrest, Walston ordered three more handguns and an extended magazine from the Virginia associate. However, ATF agents arrested the Virginia associate before he could engage in additional firearms trafficking.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
Senior U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar announced the sentence. Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:18-cr-183.