A duo from Portland, Oregon, allegedly engaged in a large scale interstate marijuana and cocaine trafficking conspiracy. The case involved the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—something infrequently seen in many of the recent drug cases covered by DeepDotWeb. The ATF, according to court documents, let the investigation into both suspects after one suspect purchased a firearm for the second suspect. The second suspect, a convicted felon, could not legally own a firearm.
Even though the first suspect purchase the gun through a licensed firearm dealer in Portland, the gun sale was illegal. Even though the purchaser of a firearm does not need to be the user of a firearm (gifted guns, etc.), the purchaser cannot be a “straw purchaser” of a firearm. United States gun laws prohibit convicted felons from purchasing or possessing a firearm. The laws also prohibit purchases by proxy. Lying about anything on the Firearms Transaction Record aka Form 4473 results in a felony with a prison sentence matching the severity of the lie.
Marjorie Livingston, 37, allegedly made false claims when purchasing a Ruger AR-556 and a .40 M&P Shield. According to the ATF, Livingston purchased the guns for Isaiah Lee Holt, 30. The ATF’s firearm investigation sparked the drug trafficking investigation that followed. A recently returned five-count indictment charged both Livingston and Holt with the respective gun charges and several drug trafficking charges.
The indictment charged Holt with one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana; one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana; one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine; and one count of the possession of a firearm as a felon. (Notably no possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking charges.) Livingston, the initial target of the investigation, was only charged with one count of the inherent conspiracy charge and one count of falsifying information while purchasing a firearm.
While the case began as a weapons case, the marijuana distribution conspiracy charges could lead to longer prison sentences. According to court documents, in early 2018, ATF agents searched Holt at his house and discovered “bundles of cash,” multiple cell phones, multiple sets of keys, and a small quantity of cocaine. Later that day, ATF agents returned to the house with a search warrant.
Inside, the agents found 14 pounds of marijuana, $46,100 in cash, the Ruger AR-556, the M&P Shield, a Taurus 9mm, bags of inositol, scales, plastic bags, Foodsaver vacuum sealed bags, a vacuum sealer, USPS mailing labels, and USPS mailers (i.e., Priority Express packages). Although the investigation is ongoing, evidence currently indicates that the duo had been shipping large quantities of marijuana to buyers in Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, and Florida.
The investigators have also recovered data from the alleged dealers’ phones that likely identified over or more suspected suppliers.