Member of gun-trafficking scheme sentenced

Published 8:54 am Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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From U.S. Attorney Michael Easley / Eastern District of North Carolina

NEW BERN, N.C. – Shyheim Williams of Williamston, North Carolina, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license.  Williams, 27, pled guilty to the charges on April 11, 2023.  Williams is the last of four codefendants to be sentenced in a gun trafficking scheme in which the organizer, Jacintre Holley, bought over 100 firearms from straw purchasers in North Carolina.

“Gun laws restricting the purchase of firearms by felons are put in place to protect the public,” said U.S. Attorney Easley. “If you illegally purchase a gun for a felon, you will be held accountable. The criminal conduct in this case put guns bought in Eastern North Carolina in the hands of a killer in Connecticut – within 6 days. We and the ATF are relentlessly pursuing violent felons and the gunrunners and straw purchasers who arm them.”

According to documents and other information presented in court, the gun trafficking investigation began when the Middletown, Connecticut, Police Department recovered a Taurus 9mm pistol used in a murder.  A trace of the gun’s serial number showed that the firearm had been purchased by codefendant Keshwan Squire at the Smokin’ Barrel Gun and Ammo in Raleigh, North Carolina. Surveillance records from the store showed Squire made a phone call from the parking lot after purchasing the firearm. Call records revealed that he called a Connecticut phone number later linked to Jacintre Holley.  Records also revealed that Squire and Holley had as a mutual contact a phone number associated with defendant Shyheim Williams and his girlfriend and codefendant Jasnika Craig.

Trace records for Craig showed that she made over 20 firearm purchases in North Carolina since 2020. Craig agreed to a recorded interview and admitted to selling firearms for a premium over market price. She admitted that almost all firearms went to Holley, who she estimated had come from Connecticut every two weeks since December 2020 to buy around seven firearms each time.  Williams identified the guns she should purchase and set up the deals with Holley, which took place in Craig’s car in their driveway.  In total, Craig estimated that she had sold around 100 firearms to Holley.  Holley was arrested on July 31, 2021 and in an interview following his arrest, he confirmed that he bought firearms from Williams and Squire multiple times over the previous several months and sold those firearms in Connecticut.

On February 14, 2023, Craig received a 24-month sentence, and Squire received an 18-month sentence.  Each had pled guilty to one count of making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm.  On February 24, 2023, the court sentenced Jacintre Holley to a 127-month term of imprisonment after he pled guilty to engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of the drug trafficking crime.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) investigated the case, with assistance from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office and the Williamston and Greenville Police Departments.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake D. Pugh prosecuted.

A copy of this press release is located on our website. Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:22-cr-0019-FL.