Thirteen Individuals Indicted in Connection with Their Roles in Conspiracy to Traffic Firearms from Beckley to Philadelphia
BECKLEY, W.V (STL.News) United States Attorney Will Thompson and Special Agent in Charge Shawn Morrow, Louisville Field Division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced that a federal grand jury returned a 19-count indictment charging 13 individuals in connection with their roles in a conspiracy to traffic over 130 firearms from the Beckley area to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. More than 30 of the firearms have been recovered in Philadelphia and have been connected to two homicides, crimes of domestic violence, and other violent crimes.
Charged with conspiracy to travel interstate with the intent to engage in dealing firearms without a license are:
Bisheem Jones, also known as “Bosh,” 36, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Derrick Woodard, also known as “D,” 26, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Shyheem Woodard-Smith, also known as “Peanut” and “Nut,” 22, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hassan Abdullah, also known as “San,” 27, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Denise Johnson, 24, of Beckley, West Virginia
Shakyrah Ross, 23, of Beckley, West Virginia
Tyana Bly, also known as “Biggie,” 22, of Beckley, West Virginia
Stephanie Cohernour, 32, of Fayetteville, West Virginia
Maurice Johnson, 35, of Mount Hope, West Virginia
Arileah Lacy, also known as “Leah,” 23, of Beckley, West Virginia
Terri Lawhorn, 27, of Oak Hill, West Virginia
Lakeshia Nicole Simon, 22, of Beckley, West Virginia
Donte Webster, 22, of Beckley West Virginia
According to the indictment, from approximately June 2020 to July 2021, Jones, Woodard, Woodard-Smith, and Abdullah recruited individuals to straw purchase firearms on their behalf. The indictment further alleges that Jones caused the straw purchases to be conducted to obtain firearms for himself, Woodard, Woodard-Smith and Abdullah without there being a record that they were the actual buyers. As part of the conspiracy, Jones, Woodard, Woodard-Smith and Abdullah traveled from Philadelphia to the Beckley area to acquire firearms for the purpose of reselling them for profit in Philadelphia and often accompanied the straw purchasers to various gun stores. Jones, Woodard, Woodard-Smith and Abdullah are also charged with travelling interstate with the intent to engage in the business of dealing in firearms without a license.
Defendants Bly, Cohernour, Maurice Johnson, Lacy, Lawhorn, Simon and Webster are charged with providing false information during the acquisition of firearms at various gun stores in the Beckley area. The indictment alleges that these defendants made false statements on ATF Form 4473 certifying that they were the buyers of the firearms when they knew they were actually purchasing the firearms for others.
The indictment alleges that during the scheme straw purchasers bought over 130 firearms in or near Beckley and delivered them to others in the conspiracy for transfer to Philadelphia.
The indictment also charges Jones with being a felon in possession of a firearm, alleging that he possessed a Ruger, Model-LC9S, 9-mm pistol on March 11, 2021. Jones is prohibited from possessing a firearm as a result of a 2010 felony conviction for robbery in Pennsylvania.
“The gun trafficking pipeline through which these defendants were supplying crime guns to Philadelphia has been shut down as a result of this investigation,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “We will continue to work with ATF and our state and local law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers and straw purchasers that put guns in the wrong hands and fuel violence in our cities.”
“One of the ways we accomplish our mission is by identifying sources of crime guns and those who illegally supply firearms used to commit acts of violence,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Shawn Morrow of the Louisville Division. “Along with our law enforcement partners, we disrupt and dismantle illegal supply networks to keep firearms from being trafficked to places where they are used to harm our communities. Firearms trafficking is not a victimless crime. It is illegal and it puts firearms into the hands of prohibited persons and criminals who often use them to commit acts of violence. No community is immune to gun violence. What’s happening in one community impacts others, and highlights how West Virginia law enforcement is working together to protect our communities and our neighbors.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) conducted the investigation with assistance from the Philadelphia Field Division of the ATF, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, the Oak Hill Police Department, the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, the Beckley Police Department, the Charleston Police Department, the Philadelphia Police Department and the West Virginia Fusion Center.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Negar M. Kordestani is handling the prosecution.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.