This week, the Department of Justice announced it has charged more than 14,200 defendants with firearms-related crimes during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, despite the challenges of COVID 19 and its impact on the criminal justice process, according to a news release.
These cases have been a Department priority since November 2019 when Attorney General William P. Barr announced his commitment to investigating, prosecuting and combatting gun crimes as a critical part of the department’s anti-violent crime strategy. These firearms-related charges are the result of the critical law enforcement partnership between United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, led by Acting Director Regina Lombardo, who has made firearms-related investigations a priority.
“The number one priority of government is to keep its citizens safe,” said Barr. “By preventing firearms from falling into the hands of individuals who are prohibited from having them, we can stop violent crime before it happens. Violating federal firearms laws is a serious crime and offenders face serious consequences. The Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting individuals who illegally buy, sell, use, or possess firearms. Reducing gun violence requires a coordinated effort, and we could not have charged more than 14,000 individuals with firearms-related crimes without the hard work of the dedicated law enforcement professionals at the ATF, our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country, and especially all of our state and local law enforcement partners.”
“Protecting the public from violent crime involving firearms is at the core of ATF’s mission,” said ATF Acting Director Regina Lombardo. “Every day the men and women of ATF pursue and investigate those who use firearms to commit violent crimes in our communities, many of whom are prohibited from possessing firearms from previous convictions. ATF, in collaboration with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the nation, is committed to bringing these offenders to justice for their egregious and violent criminal acts.”
“Keeping our communities in East Texas safe will always be the most fundamental priority of this District, and that starts with reducing gun violence and taking firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox. “The Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with all of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively pursue those who choose to illegally use and possess firearms.”
Of the more than 14,200 cases charged, 239 cases have been brought by the Eastern District of Texas, Cox reported.
Some of those individuals indicted in the last two weeks in the Eastern District of Texas were from Beaumont, and their corresponding charges are as follows:
- Derionte Chrishaun Thomas, 24, of Beaumont, Texas, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person;
- Amber Dawn LeBlanc, 37, of Beaumont, Texas, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm;
- Antonio Daquan Epperson, 29, of Brookston, Texas, possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime and felon in possession;
- Glenn Curtis Frazier, 51, of Honey Grove, Texas, felon in possession of a firearm;
- Austin Dee McManus, 20, of Pilot Point, Texas, possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person;
- Andres Ocampo Acosta, 30, of Dallas, Texas, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime;
- Hector Javier Castenada Rueda, 42, of Dallas, Texas, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime;
- Robert Leon Franklin, III, 38, of Gainesville, Texas, possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person;
- Moniqua Dyan Kershman, 24, of Ardmore, OK, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person;
- Phillip Eugene Seese, 51, of Gainesville, Texas, felon in possession of a firearm;
- Courtney Anderson, 40, of Dallas, Texas, felon in possession of a firearm; and
- Halil Sivri, 31, of Plano, Texas, illegal alien in possession of a firearm.
Under federal law, it is illegal to possess a firearm if you fall into one of nine prohibited categories including being a felon, illegal alien, or unlawful user of a controlled substance. Further, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense or violent crime. It is also illegal to purchase – or even to attempt to illegally purchase - firearms if the buyer is a prohibited person or illegally purchasing a firearm on behalf of others. Lying on ATF Form 4473, which is used to lawfully purchase a firearm, is also a federal offense. The Department is committed to prosecuting these firearms offenses as well as using all modern technologies available to law enforcement such as the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, known as NIBIN, to promote gun crime intelligence. Keeping illegal firearms out of the hands of violent criminals will continue to be a priority of the Department of Justice and we will use all appropriate, available means to keep the law abiding people of this country safe from gun crime.