Two Plead Guilty in Federal Court to Trafficking Firearms into Providence
PROVIDENCE, RI—Kinmonte Markell Brown, 28 and Dennis Wells, 24, of Greenville, North Carolina pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence on Friday to trafficking more than a dozen firearms from North Carolina into Providence between November 2014 and January 2015.
The defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, dealing firearms without a license, being felons in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
The guilty pleas are announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin; Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New England Field Division; Daniel J. Kumor, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Divisionof the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.
Information that led to the arrest of Brown and Wells and the interruption of the flow of the firearms from North Carolina to an apartment in the Hartford Park neighborhood was developed as a result of the Rhode Island Urban Violent Crime Initiative—a wide-ranging collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement and federal and state prosecutors who are targeting violent crime and violent criminals in urban neighborhoods of Rhode Island.
In late 2013, the Initiative began targeting the distribution of heroin and crack cocaine in Providence and the importation of firearms onto the streets of Providence. Simultaneously, and in close coordination, the FBI’s Safe Street Task Force and Providence Police began targeting gang members and associates engaged in violent crime, including gun crimes, in Providence.
Information gathered during these investigations led to a separate investigation by DEA, ATF, Providence Police, and state and federal prosecutors which resulted in the interruption of the flow of illegal firearms into Providence from Greenville, North Carolina, and the arrest of Kinmonte Brown and Dennis Wells.
According to information presented to the court, beginning in late November 2014, and continuing through January 2015, a person working at the direction of DEA began a series of negotiations with Brown and Wells for the purchase and shipment of illegal firearms into Rhode Island. The ongoing negotiations led to a series of sales and delivery of 15 illegal firearms and ammunition from North Carolina to Providence by Brown and Wells. Each time firearms were delivered they were quickly secured by law enforcement.
On January 31, 2015, as previously arranged by the person working at the direction of DEA, Brown and Wells drove to Rhode Island from North Carolina to sell and deliver seven firearms, including a .357 magnum revolver with an obliterated serial number, a .38 caliber handgun and several shotguns and rifles. Browns and Wells were detained moments after they delivered the firearms.
The defendants, who have been detained since their arrest, are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith on December 18, 2015.
The case is being prosecuted by in federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul F. Daly, Jr. and Joseph J. McBurney, Special Assistant R.I. Attorney General.