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Active-duty Navy sailor, former sailor charged with trafficking 20+ guns across state lines, some used in crimes

Guns for sale at a store. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/TNS)
September 03, 2021

Elijah Isaiah Boykin, an active-duty U.S. Navy sailor and Elijah Keashon Barnes, a retired U.S. Navy sailor, face federal gun trafficking charges for allegedly buying dozens of firearms in Georgia and selling them in New Jersey, where some were used in crimes.

According to a Department of Justice press release Tuesday, Boykin purchased more than two dozen firearms, worth in excess of $17,000, from federally licensed firearms dealers in Georgia and Virginia. On each occasion, Boykin signed paperwork stating that he was the actual purchaser of the guns but paid using a credit card Barnes’ credit card. Police eventually began to recover those firearms at separate crime scenes throughout the Newark, New Jersey area.

One pistol was recovered in October 2020, when police officers in Newark conducted a traffic stop and arrested Barnes, who was wanted on a Virginia warrant for domestic assault and battery.  The pistol was found in Barnes’s car. Months later, police recovered another of the firearms Boykin had purchased. Prosecutors connected the second firearm to three separate shootings in Newark, including a violent mugging during which a victim was shot multiple times in the right leg.

Prosecutors announced on Tuesday that at least six firearms that had been purchased by Boykin have eventually been recovered in Newark and the surrounding area.

Boykin was arrested by Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Agents at Naval Air Station Key West on August 25. Barnes was also arrested on August 25 in Newark.

“Federal law prohibits the making of false statements and misrepresentations to licensed firearms dealers,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said Tuesday. “Individuals who use deception to buy guns intended for other people will face severe consequences, including imprisonment and the loss of valuable civil rights.”

Boykin and Barnes are both charged with one count of conspiracy to make false statements, three counts of making false statements to federally licensed firearms dealers, and one count of unlawful transfer of firearms.

“The unlawful acquisition and trafficking of firearms is a serious crime that threatens our communities here and abroad,” ATF Special Agent in Charge, Atlanta Field Division Ben Gibbons said. “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 criminals choose to operate.” 

The DOJ said both Boykin and Barnes will be arraigned at a later date in the Northern District of Georgia