20 January 2023
RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — At least 280 illegal firearms were forfeited and approximately 278 defendants were charged with federal firearms offenses within the Eastern District of North Carolina in 2022, according to an announcement from Michael Easley, U.S. attorney for the district.
The Eastern District includes 44 counties from Raleigh to the Atlantic coast.
“Getting illegal guns out of the hands of the most dangerous felons helps make our communities safer,” Easley said in a press release. “I am proud of the strong partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement to get these guns off the street, so they are not used to commit future crimes.”
At least 280 “illegally owned, possessed, used, or obtained firearms” were forfeited within the district in 2022, according to the release. Criminally-forfeited forearms are given to the government for disposal, which can include returning the gun to a rightful owner.
“EDNC’s efforts to seize and forfeit illegal firearms in 2022 was the result of multiple investigative and prosecutorial efforts, including the Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) and the Violent Crime Action Plan (VCAP) initiative which are both collaborative efforts with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, working with the community, to identify and address the most significant drivers of violent crime, and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), whose purpose is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply,” the release says.
EDNC said it charged approximately 278 defendants with federal firearms offenses, including possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, and straw purchasing of a firearm. The district credited “close cooperation between prosecutors and partners at federal and local law enforcement agencies.”
“ATF’s top priority is preventing firearms from falling into the wrong hands,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims. “That effort is strongly supported by our local and state law enforcement partners and our federal prosecutors. Through our collaborative efforts, we’re working hard to prevent illegal purchases, firearms trafficking, and firearms thefts. Keeping firearms out of the hands of prohibited individuals is key to building and maintaining safer communities.”
“Finding and confiscating illegal weapons from dangerous criminals not only protects our communities, but it also protects the law enforcement community as we do our jobs,” said Ronnie Martinez, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Charlotte that covers North and South Carolina. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect our communities.