CAMDEN, N.J. B Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), assisted by investigators from local, county, state and federal partner agencies, arrested multiple individuals throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania this morning for illegally selling and possessing 82 firearms in the Camden area over a 12-month period, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Altogether, 10 men were charged, with eight arrested this morning during predawn raids, and two others already in custody on unrelated charges. Following six separate but coordinated ATF investigations that each involved video and audio-recorded illegal firearms sales by the defendants to a confidential informant and/or an undercover officer, the defendants were charged with various firearms offenses, including dealing firearms without a license, conspiring with others to deal firearms without a license, and selling stolen firearms. The defendants are scheduled to make their initial court appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams and U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio in Camden federal court.
The guns ranged from semiautomatic pistols to sawed-off shotguns, assault-style rifles and pistols with high-capacity magazines. Many of the guns were stolen, straw-purchased, or had obliterated serial numbers. A ballistics vest, alleged by one of the sellers to have been stolen from a military base, was also sold to a cooperating informant.
“The great work of ATF and our other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, took 82 guns off the streets of Camden. As alleged in the complaints, the defendants were willing to sell these weapons without regard to how they would ultimately be used. This is one part of our multi-facetted strategy to keep the people of Camden safe,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said.
“The alleged charges and subsequent arrests announced today send a direct message not to engage in the unlawful trafficking of firearms. Unlicensed dealers of firearms are nothing more than greedy criminal merchants, who seek profits at the expense of public safety, all too often with deadly consequences,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge George Belsky. “ATF will continue to identify, target, and arrest gun thieves, gun traffickers, and straw buyers, who are responsible for starting the sequence of violence in our neighborhoods by peddling guns to criminals. ATF remains dedicated to our core mission of fighting violent crime with our State and local partners to keep our homes, streets, and neighborhoods safe from firearms related violence.”
According to separate federal criminal complaints filed today in Camden federal court:
Orlando Matos, 47, of Camden, Robby Velazquez, 24, of Pennsauken, New Jersey and Orlando Velazquez, 46, of Pennsauken, were each charged with one count of dealing firearms without a license and one count of conspiring with others to deal firearms without a license. Matos is also charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. From March 2014 through February 2015, Matos and Velazquez allegedly sold 30 firearms, including two sawed-off shotguns and a high-capacity assault-style rifle. Several of the firearms were stolen or had obliterated serial numbers.
David Potts, 43, of Camden, and Darnel Johns, 47, of Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, are each charged with one count of conspiring with others to deal firearms without a license. Potts is also charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. From September 2014 through December 2014, Potts and Johns allegedly sold 22 firearms, including a sawed-off shotgun, three high-capacity assault-style rifles (one with a 73-round drum magazine and one with five 30-round magazines) and a high-capacity assault-style pistol with a 30-round magazine. Several of the guns were stolen, had obliterated serial numbers or were straw-purchased.
Donavin Jackson, 20, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Dominique Lawrence, 27, of Camden, are each charged with one count of dealing firearms without a license. From June 2014 through July 2014, Jackson and Lawrence allegedly sold six firearms, including a high-capacity assault-style rifle and a high-capacity assault-style pistol. One of the guns had an obliterated serial number and was straw-purchased.
Jayson Quinones, 21, of Camden, is charged with one count of dealing firearms without a license. From September 2014 through January 2015, Quinones allegedly sold eight firearms, including a .45 caliber pistol and a .357 Magnum revolver.
Dante Witcher, 45, of Camden, is charged with one count of dealing firearms without a license, one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of selling a stolen firearm. From September 2014 through November 2014, Witcher allegedly sold 15 firearms, all of which were stolen from gun stores in North Carolina. All fifteen firearms were new, high-caliber (9mm, .40, .44) handguns.
Elliot Nock, 31, of Camden, is charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. On Oct. 31, 2013, the defendant allegedly sold a high-capacity assault-style pistol with a 30-round magazine.
Both the charge of conspiring to deal firearms without a license and the related charges of dealing firearms without a license each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges of possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon and selling a stolen firearm each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the ATF, under the direction of George P. Belsky, Jr.; Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Newark Field Division, and Essam Rabadi, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division, with the investigation. He additionally credited special agents of the DEA, Maple Shade Resident Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski; the ATF Charlotte Field Division under the direction of Special Agent in Charge, Wayne L. Dixie, Jr.; investigators with the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Eva Marie Colalillo; detectives of the Camden County Police Department – Metro, under the direction of Chief J. Scott Thomson; the Newark Police Department’s Ballistics Laboratory; and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office Ballistics Laboratory, with the investigation. He additionally credited the U.S. Marshals Service, under the direction of U.S. Marshal Juan Mattos, Jr.; investigators under the Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area; the New Jersey State Police’s Metro South Unit, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes; the New Jersey State Parole Board, under the direction of Chairman James T. Plousis; the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Charles H. Billingham; and the Cherry Hill, Pennsauken and Maple Shade Police Departments.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard Wiener (Potts and Johns), Steven J. D’Aguanno (Quinones), Patrick C. Askin (Jackson and Lawrence), Justin C. Danilewitz (Matos, Robby and Orlando Velazquez) and Sara Aliabadi (Witcher, Nock) of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.
This case was coordinated through the Camden County Crime Collaboration (“C-4”). Every federal, state and local law enforcement agency and prosecutor’s office responsible for combating drug trafficking, gang activity and violent crime in Camden has come together in one location to share intelligence, develop strategies and support the investigative and prosecutorial efforts of its partners. C-4 has merged the individual missions of the various law enforcement agencies into a single strategic attack on drug trafficking and drug-related violent crime. Such intense coordination greatly enhances the law enforcement community’s ability to correctly identify and successfully prosecute Camden’s most dangerous criminals.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.