Georgia sailor and colleague accused of conspiracy to traffic guns

August 31, 2021
2 mins read
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Photo by jodylehigh on Pixabay

Elijah Isaiah Boykin, an active-duty U.S. Navy Sailor, and Elijah Keashon Barnes have been indicted for unlawfully obtaining and transporting dozens of firearms that were later used in New Jersey-area crimes.

According to the Department of Justice, Boykin and Barnes served together in the U.S. Navy until June 2020, when Barnes was discharged following his confinement for repeated violations of military law.

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

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

According to Erskine, the charges, and other information presented in court: Between April 2020 and August 2020, Elijah Isaiah Boykin purchased more than two dozen firearms from federally licensed firearms dealers in Georgia and Virginia. The total purchase price exceeded $17,000 and was spread over eight transactions. On each occasion, Boykin signed paperwork stating that he was the actual purchaser of the guns but paid using a credit card belonging to co-defendant Elijah Keashon Barnes.

Local law enforcement in and around Newark, New Jersey began to recover Boykin’s firearms shortly after they were purchased. 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. 

A few months later, Newark police officers recovered another gun that Boykin purchased. Forensic testing linked that second firearm to three separate shootings in Newark, including a violent mugging during which a victim was shot multiple times in the right leg.

To date, at least six firearms purchased by Boykin have been recovered in the city of Newark or a nearby township.

Elijah Isaiah Boykin, 25, of Palmetto, Georgia, and Elijah Keashon Barnes, 21, of Newark, New Jersey, were indicted by a federal grand jury on June 15, 2021 for conspiracy to make false statements, three counts of making false statements to federally licensed firearms dealers, and one count of unlawful transfer of firearm. On August 25, 2021, Boykin was arrested by Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Agents at Naval Air Station Key West.  Barnes was arrested the same day in Newark. The defendants will be arraigned at a later date in the Northern District of Georgia.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore S. Hertzberg, Firearms Trafficking Coordinator for the Northern District of Georgia, is prosecuting the case.

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