Guilty plea for gun trafficking

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2015

All three men arrested in a fall 2014 gun trafficking investigation now have pleaded guilty to the charges, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Lamonte Rashawn Willis, 23, of Suffolk, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of possessing and concealing stolen firearms, as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is set to be sentenced May 14.

Direll Lamar Jackson pleaded guilty on Jan. 14 and is set to be sentenced April 23. Travis Travel Scott pleaded guilty Jan. 27, and his sentencing is set for May 14.

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All three face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

According to a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, in the autumn of 2014 Willis was part of a group that was breaking into cars and homes in the area and stealing property, including firearms. Soon after the burglaries, the group was attempting to sell the stolen guns. One of the potential buyers the group contacted was a confidential informant, who turned the information over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

During the course of the investigation, the federal agencies utilized an informant to purchase a total of 19 firearms from the group. On Nov. 17, the agencies executed a search warrant at the property where the gun transactions had been occurring and recovered a total of 22 additional firearms. To date, of the 41 firearms recovered by law enforcement, 31 have been confirmed to be stolen from various break-ins in Hampton Roads and Northeastern North Carolina.

The case started in September 2014, when a detective with the Chesapeake Police Department contacted federal agents about an individual that wanted to sell firearms to a confidential informant with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The informant was equipped with a recording device and transmitter to record and monitor a meeting that took place in Suffolk. During the meeting, the informant set up a future meeting with Jackson to conduct the purchase, according to an affidavit filed for the case.

On Sept. 22, the informant used $3,000 in government funds, while equipped with audio/video transmittal and audio recording devices, to buy weapons. The three suspects accepted $3,000 for the guns.

The guns were consistent with descriptions provided by a recent burglary victim, with two of the serial numbers matching.

Jackson allegedly offered additional firearms for sale to the informant by text message, complete with photos of the firearms.

On Oct. 1, the informant called Jackson, and Jackson offered to sell two firearms for $1,550 and cocaine for $1,700. The informant set up a meeting for the next day.

The next day, the informant placed a recorded call to confirm the sale. Jackson allegedly said he had only a Tec-9 pistol and a quarter-ounce of cocaine. In another recorded and monitored meeting, the informant bought both, as well as an additional shotgun, for $1,250. He bought the gun at Jackson’s residence and later met him at Feather & Fin on East Washington Street to buy the cocaine.

On Oct. 16, the informant once again bought nine firearms for the price of $4,200 in a recorded and monitored transaction.

The firearms purchased were later found to be consistent with firearms stolen in a theft from a vehicle in Suffolk on July 13 and in a burglary in Isle of Wight County on Oct. 10.

On Nov. 12, Suffolk Police advised they had two residential burglaries and one attempted burglary that day in which about 20 firearms were stolen. The informant called Jackson to see if he had any firearms for sale, and Jackson offered to sell six handguns for a total of $2,800, according to the affidavit. He also said he had 13 other firearms but would give a price for them later.

Jackson later offered 22 firearms for a total of $7,700.

Scott and Willis also were present during some of the transactions.

The trafficking case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The burglaries were investigated by Suffolk Police Department, Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office and Gates County Sheriff’s Office.