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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Middle District of Florida

For Immediate Release

August 13, 2012

Robert E. O'Neill, United States Attorney

Contact: William Daniels
(813) 274-6388


Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday today sentenced Zavien Brand (28, Tampa) to thirty-one years in federal prison for distribution of crack cocaine, possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes, and being a felon in possession of firearms. Brand pled guilty on April 10, 2012.

According to court documents, the HCSO, along with the ATF, initiated the "Pines Operation" in an effort to combat an ongoing drug and gang epidemic in a pair of apartment complexes located in Tampa. Approximately 52 individuals were arrested on state or federal charges as a result of the operation. During the course of the operation, Brand, a prior convicted felon, sold five guns to undercover law enforcement, on five different occasions. On seven occasions, Brand sold crack cocaine to undercover law enforcement, while he was carrying a firearm. At the time of the offenses, Brand had at least five prior state felony convictions.

This case was investigated by the ATF and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas N. Palermo.

It is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice's "Project Safe Neighborhoods" program - a nationwide, gun-violence reduction strategy led by ATF. United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill, along with Virginia O'Brien, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, is coordinating the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort here in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.