DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia

For Immediate Release

Thursday, March 5, 2020
G. Zachary Terwilliger
, United States Attorney
Contact: Joshua Stueve

Previously Convicted Felon Sentenced for Illegally Selling Firearms

RICHMOND, Va. – A Richmond man was sentenced today to eight years in prison for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

“Under Attorney General Barr’s leadership, we are 100 percent committed to Project Guardian and keeping illegally trafficked firearms out of the hands of convicted felons and out of our communities,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The trafficking of firearms poses a serious threat to public safety and the safety of our law enforcement partners. Simply put, convicted felons have forfeited their Second Amendment right to bear arms, and those who choose to illegally traffick firearms will be investigated, prosecuted, and held accountable for their actions.”

According to court documents, in August 2018, Shakil R. Bland, 30, a previously convicted felon, sold several firearms to an undercover agent with ATF. Bland sold two semi-automatic firearms and a 50-round drum magazine to an individual he believed was coming from out of state to purchase firearms. In October 2018, Bland also sold the same undercover agent an additional semi-automatic handgun and extended magazine.

“Anyone who is trafficking firearms poses a serious threat to the safety of every community those firearms pass through,” said Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Washington Field Division. “We are glad to see that these guns were taken off of the street and that this defendant is being held accountable for his dangerous actions. Now there is still more work to do and others like him to stop. Through Project Guardian and our partnerships with law enforcement and prosecutors, we will continue working tirelessly to disrupt and prevent firearms trafficking.”

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. Click here for more information about Project Guardian.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck. Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather H. Mansfield 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. 3:19-cr-079.

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Washington Field Division