ATLANTA — A St.Kitts man will do time in the U.S. for selling and arranging the illegal sale of firearms from Georgia overseas, federal prosecutors said.
Jahziah Roy Lewis, 30, of Saint Kitts and Nevis, was sentenced last week to four years and nine months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release after being convicted of conspiracy to straw purchase firearms, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, exporting firearms outside the United States, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
And when the federal indictment against his co-defendants became public in October 2020, he tried to flee the United States, buying a plane ticket from Miami to the United Kingdom, prosecutors said. Local police were able to arrest him before he boarded his flight, authorities said.
“Lewis directed the straw purchase of the guns, had their serial numbers obliterated and then smuggled them in household items with the intent of selling them abroad,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “Our federal and international law enforcement partners were able to intercept some of the shipments before they were used in a crime. We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who buy firearms for others and unlawfully export them for illicit purposes.
Between February 2017 and May 2020, prosecutors say Lewis and two accomplices were involved in an international weapons racket, buying approximately 36 guns and drugs and illegally shipping them through the U.S. Postal Service to the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.
Authorities said Lewis’ co-defendants would purchase the guns and fill out the ownership paperwork fraudulently and destroy the serial numbers on each weapon before concealing them in regular household items and shipping them out of the country to sell on his behalf.
Several weapons bought in Georgia were found in the U.K. and in St. Kitts tied to criminal activity, prosecutors said.
“The unlawful acquisition and trafficking of firearms is a serious crime that threatens our communities here and abroad,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Atlanta Field Division Special Agent in Charge, Ben Gibbons. “Obliterated firearms are hard to trace and that is what prohibited individuals are interested in. This investigation illustrates the dedication of ATF and its’ law enforcement partners to disrupt illegal firearm straw purchase schemes within the U.S. or anywhere firearm traffickers, like Lewis, choose to operate.”