The Philadelphia Gun Violence Task Force Marks a Milestone Topping 500 Arrests

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Philadelphia, October, 14, 2010:  District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Attorney General Tom Corbett and Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey today announced that the Gun Violence Task Force has arrested 34 more individuals charging them with gun trafficking and related offenses.  Since it began in December 2006, the Task Force has opened 1545 investigations involving the illegal transfer of firearms, made 504 arrests, and seized 972 firearms.  In addition, the Task Force has assisted Philadelphia Police in solving numerous shootings, burglaries, robberies, and homicides.  To date, the Task Force has convicted 320 individuals of straw purchasing and other gun trafficking offenses. 

With funding from the State Legislature, the Gun Violence Task Force was launched to attack the proliferation of illegal guns on city streets.  Composed of veteran investigators and seasoned prosecutors, and working in close coordination with the Philadelphia Police Department, the Task Force began operations in Southwest Philadelphia and has since expanded into all six of the city’s police Divisions.

Under Pennsylvania law, a convicted felon is prohibited from purchasing a firearm.  Licensed gun dealers require proof of identity and perform a record check prior to making a sale.  Unable to legally purchase firearms from a licensed dealer, felons use false identification or hire “Straws”, citizens with no criminal record, to purchase guns for them.  The “Straw”, after buying the gun and delivering it to the felon, frequently reports the gun as stolen in an attempt to avoid criminal responsibility when the gun is later used in a crime.  Felons also illegally purchase weapons “on the street” – most often guns stolen in burglaries. 

 It was announced today that the following have been arrested by the Task Force:

Rafael Ferrer aka Rafael Casillas, 34, of San Juan, Puerto Rico and Elizabeth Delgado, 57, of the 2200 block of North Fairhill Street.  It is alleged that Ferrer, Delgado and two others entered into a conspiracy to straw purchase three handguns (two .40 caliber and one .45 caliber) at a Philadelphia gun store.  Ferrer planned to take the guns to Puerto Rico to resell them illegally.  Task Force Special Agents, alerted by the gun store, followed three of the conspirators from the store and recovered the handguns. Ferrer was arrested in Puerto Rico and has been extradited.  Both Ferrer and Delgado are charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 3rd degree.        

Yuriy Arkadyev, 44, of the 800 block of Barlow Street.   It is alleged that Arkadyev wore a ballistic vest while illegally carrying two rifles and two handguns in his vehicle.  All four weapons were recovered by Philadelphia police who then obtained a search warrant for Arkadyev’s residence. Task Force Agents recovered 24 additional rifles, 16 handguns, two shotguns, and several thousand rounds of ammunition.  Arkadyev is charged with Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; and Possession of an Instrument of Crime, a felony of the 3rd degree.

Henry Greyo, 27, of the 1800 block of Fox Chase Road.  It is alleged that Greyo who is prohibited from purchasing a firearm, falsified purchase forms in an attempt to buy a 9mm handgun at a Philadelphia gun store.  Greyo is charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a misdemeanor of the first degree; and Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree.

Shamir Blocker, 26, of the 900 block of Foulkrod Street.  It is alleged that Blocker who is prohibited from possessing a firearm, illegally purchased a .40 caliber handgun on the street for $250.  He later used the handgun to assault a female for which he was separately arrested and charged.  He now faces charges of Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a misdemeanor of the first degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 3rd degree.        

Urie Caster, 20, of the 6000 block of Pine Street.  It is alleged that Caster illegally purchased a 9mm handgun and a sawed-off rifle on the street.  Caster is charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Possession of a Prohibited Offensive Weapon, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 3rd degree.  

Keith Seabrook, 43, of the 600 block of Vernon Road.  It is alleged that Seabrook, who is prohibited from possessing a firearm, falsified state and federal purchase forms in an attempt to buy a .357 caliber handgun at a Philadelphia gun store.  Seabrook is charged with Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a misdemeanor of the first degree; Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; and Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree. 

Kirkland Hayes, 22, of the 100 block of W. Godfrey Avenue, and Kamar Thompson, 23, of the 100 block of Linton Street.  It is alleged that Hayes falsified state and federal forms to straw purchase a .45 caliber handgun for Thompson.  The loaded weapon was recovered by Philadelphia police six days later when Thompson was arrested.  Both men are charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 3rd degree.         

Marcus Allen, 27, of the 1800 block of Delmar Drive, Folcroft PA.  It is alleged that Allen stole a 9mm handgun from a residence in Folcroft and traded it for a .357 caliber handgun that had been stolen from a home in Philadelphia.  The 9mm was subsequently recovered by Philadelphia police.  Allen is charged with Theft, a felony of the 2nd degree; Receiving Stolen Property, a felony of the 2nd degree; Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 2nd degree.

Junis MacDonald, 34, of the 100 block of Youngs Avenue, Woodlyn, PA.  It is alleged that MacDonald illegally sold a .380 caliber handgun which was recovered from an individual charged with the gun point robbery of a pharmacy in which money and pills were taken. MacDonald then assisted in the selling of the pills in Delaware County.  MacDonald is charged with Robbery, a felony of the 1st degree; Theft, a felony of the 3rd degree; Receiving Stolen Property, a felony of the 3rd degree; Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 1st degree. 

Yan Bermudez, 22, of the 3300 block of Mascher Street.  It is alleged that Bermudez served as the middleman in the illegal sale of three handguns (one .357, one 9mm, and one .44 caliber) that were stolen in a residential burglary. Bermudez is charged with Receiving Stolen Property, a felony of the 2nd degree; Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 2nd degree.

Rasheen Washington, 31, of the 400 block of West Winona Street.  It is alleged that Washington, a fugitive, falsified state and federal purchase forms in an attempt to buy a .25 caliber handgun at a Philadelphia gun store.  Washington is charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a misdemeanor of the first degree; Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; and Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree.  

R.V., a juvenile.   It is alleged that R.V. stole a .22 caliber handgun from a relative’s home and then gave the gun to another juvenile.  The loaded handgun was recovered by Philadelphia police when the second juvenile was arrested.  R.V. is charged with Theft, a felony of the 2nd degree; Receiving Stolen Property, a felony of the 2nd degree; Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Possession of a Firearm by a Minor, a felony of the 3rd degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 2nd degree.

Sipho Say, 30, of the 700 block of Sigal Street; and Ruary Kert, 24, of the 1600 block of South Lawrence Street.  It is alleged that Say, a convicted felon, falsified purchase forms in an attempt to buy a 9mm handgun.  When the sale was denied by the gun store, Kert attempted to straw purchase the firearm for Say.  Both men are charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 3rd degree.    

Norberto Estevez, 19, of the 3400 block of Kip Street; Juan Sanchez, 48, of the 3500 block of North Water Street; and Ramone Malave, 35, of the 3400 block of North Kip Street.  It is alleged that Estevez brokered the illegal sale of two handguns, one .45 caliber and one .22 caliber, that had been stolen in a residential burglary. Estevez illegally sold the .22 caliber handgun to Sanchez, a convicted felon, who resold the firearm to Malave, also a convicted felon.  Task Force Agents searched the home of Sanchez and recovered 4 additional handguns and heroin.  Agents also recovered the stolen .22 caliber during a search of Malave’s residence. All are charged with Receiving Stolen Property, a felony of the 2nd degree; Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree;  and Conspiracy, a felony of the 2nd degree.  Sanchez and Malave are also charged with Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a felony of the second degree, and Sanchez is charged with drug possession.    

William Jackson, 26, of the 900 block of West Brown Street; James Johnson, 31, of the 3200 block of North Ella Street; and Dominique Williams, 25, of the 4600 block of Weymouth Street.  It is alleged that Task Force Agents, executing a search and seizure warrant at Williams’ residence, arrested all three defendants in possession of cocaine, marijuana, a scale, and drug packaging materials.  Task Force Agents also recovered a loaded 9mm handgun and body armor.  All three defendants are charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance, a felony; Possession of Body Armor, a felony of the 3rd degree; Possession of an instrument of Crime/Weapon, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, a misdemeanor.  

Renatta Blackburn, 22 and Edward Blackburn, 22, both of the 2700 block of South of the 2700 block of South 10th Street.  It is alleged that Edward Blackburn, who is prohibited from purchasing a firearm, attempted to buy a rifle at a Philadelphia gun store.  When the sale was denied due to a criminal record check, Renatta Blackburn returned to the store the next day and tried to buy the same rifle.  When the store refused to complete the sale, Renatta Blackburn went to a gun store in Berks County a day later and purchased a rifle.  Task Force Agents obtained a search warrant and recovered the rifle from the couples’ residence.  Both are charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 3rd degree.   

Jose Rodriguez, 44, of the 800 block of West Somerset Street.  It is alleged that Rodriguez falsified state and federal purchase forms and bought a .40 caliber handgun.  It also alleged that Rodriguez then falsified state and local application forms in an attempt to obtain a license to carry a firearm.  Rodriguez is charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree; and Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a felony of the second degree.

In addition to the above arrests, warrants have been issued for the following:

Asia Divine Matthews, 31, of the 100 block of Weaver Street.  It is alleged that Matthews falsified state and local application forms in an attempt to obtain a license to carry a firearm.  Matthews is charged with Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; and Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree. 

Brahiem Thompson, 24, of the 700 block of S. 57th Street.  It is alleged that Thompson and another burglarized a home in Philadelphia and stole 12 handguns and 6 rifles, many of which they sold illegally on the street.  One of the handguns was recovered by Philadelphia police during an arrest.  Thompson is charged with Burglary, a felony of the 1st degree; Theft, a felony of the 2nd degree; Receiving Stolen Property, a felony of the 2nd degree; Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a felony of the 2nd degree; Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 1st degree.      

Louis McCall, 39, of the 10000 block of Nandia Way.  It is alleged that McCall, a convicted felon, illegally obtained a 9mm handgun from a friend whom he accompanied to a gun shop in Willow Grove, PA.  McCall is charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a felony of the second degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 3rd degree. 

Leander Jackson, 59, of the 3000 block of North 17th Street.  It is alleged that Jackson, a convicted felon, falsified state and federal purchase forms to buy three handguns, two of which he later resold.  One of the resold handguns, a .357, was subsequently used in an aggravated assault and confiscated by Philadelphia police.  Jackson is charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree; Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a felony of the second degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 3rd degree.    

Tyrone Smith, 19, of the 100 block of South 55th Street.  It is alleged that Smith illegally transferred two 9mm handguns, both subsequently recovered by Philadelphia police during the execution of a search warrant.  Smith is charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree;  and Conspiracy, a felony of the 3rd degree.

Phillip Weems, 33, and Cheryl Curry, 30, of the 2700 block of Lardner Street.  It is alleged that Weems, a convicted felon, and Curry, also prohibited from possessing a firearm, conspired to use a straw purchaser to buy a 9mm handgun at a Philadelphia gun store.  The firearm was subsequently recovered by police while executing a search warrant at the couple’s residence.  Both are charged with Illegal Transfer of Firearms, a felony of the 3rd degree; Tampering with Public Records or Information, a felony of the 3rd degree; Unsworn Falsification, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree; Conspiracy, a felony of the 3rd degree; Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; and Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a felony of the second degree.

Johnny Sowell, 23, of the 3900 block of Wyalusing Avenue; and William Jackson, 26, of the 6200 block of West Jefferson Street.  It is alleged that Sowell and Jackson, a convicted felon, forced their way into a home with handguns where they assaulted and robbed the female victim.  Numerous items were stolen including a 9mm handgun.  Both are charged with Robbery, a felony of the 1st degree; Burglary, a felony of the 1st degree; Aggravated Assault, a felony of the 1st degree; Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, a felony of the 1st degree; Sexual Assault, a felony of the 2nd degree; Indecent Assault, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Unlawful Restraint, a felony of the 2nd degree; False Imprisonment, a felony of the 2nd degree; Theft, a felony of the 2nd degree; Receiving Stolen Property, a felony of the 2nd degree; Firearms not to be Carried without a License, a felony of the 3rd degree; Carrying a Firearm on a Public Street, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Possession of an Instrument of Crime, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Terroristic Threats, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree; Simple Assault, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree; Recklessly Endangering Another Person, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree; and Conspiracy, a felony of the 1st degree.  Jackson is also charged with Persons Not to Possess Firearms, a felony of the second degree.

Felonies of the 2nd degree are punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.  Felonies of the 3rd degree are punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine. Misdemeanors of the 1st degree are punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.  A second or subsequent conviction of 18 PA.C.S.A 6111 is a felony of the 2nd degree and carries a mandatory sentence of five to 10 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.

It was also announced that the following defendants prosecuted by the Task Force have been sentenced:

Kenneth Byrd was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison by the Honorable Glynnis Hill after pleading guilty to using false identification to purchase 8 handguns.

Louis Zawacki was sentenced to 1 to 2 years in prison by the Honorable Karen Shreeves-Johns after pleading guilty to using a straw purchaser to buy a handgun.

Jamear Dupree was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in prison by the Honorable Paula A. Patrick after pleading guilty to stealing a handgun from a residence.

Frederick Pacell was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison by the Honorable Paula A. Patrick after pleading guilty to illegally selling a rifle and a shotgun that he had stolen in a residential burglary. 

Nicole Jackson was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 3 years in prison by the Honorable John J. O’Grady, Jr. after pleading guilty to illegally purchasing a handgun with false identification.

Juan Diaz was sentenced to 2 ½ to 5 years in prison by the Honorable Paula A. Patrick after being found guilty to possessing a loaded firearm without a license to carry.


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