FBI Cleveland
Public Affairs Officer Susan Licate
May 10, 2024

FBI Cleveland Announces Arrests in Firearms Trafficking and International Smuggling

CLEVELAND, OH—The FBI Cleveland Division and its Joint Terrorism Task Force announce the arrests of two individuals charged with numerous firearms violations, including trafficking, smuggling, and murder-for-hire.

George Baynes, aka Issa Yusef, age 66, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Aaron Betts, age 48, of Cleveland, Ohio, were arrested on May 10, 2024, and charged by criminal complaint in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, with several federal offenses.

It is alleged in charging documents that Baynes and Betts violated Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(d)(1), Selling or Disposing of a Firearm to a Convicted Felon; Title 18, United States Code, Section 932(b), Conspiracy to Straw Purchase Firearms; Title 18, United States Code, Section 933(a)(1), Firearms Trafficking; and Title 18, United States Code, Section 933(a)(1) and (3), Firearms Trafficking Conspiracy; and there is also probable cause that BAYNES has violated Title 18, United States Code, Section 554(a), Attempted Smuggling of Goods from the United States; Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1), Felon in Possession of a Firearm; and Title 18, United States Code, Section 1958(a), Murder-for-Hire. Finally, there is probable cause that BETTS has also violated Title 18, United States Code, Section 932(b), Straw Purchasing of Firearms.

Baynes and Betts were arrested without incident by federal agents and made their initial appearance on May 10, 2024, in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio.

It is alleged in charging documents that Baynes repeatedly purchased and sold new and stolen firearms and further attempted to smuggle firearms overseas. Baynes also enlisted the assistance of Betts to purchase and obtain firearms at a Cleveland area gun show. Betts purchased and sold multiple firearms to Baynes, a known felon, and further understood the weapons were to be shipped overseas.

Baynes, according to the complaint, also provided a cooperating witness with firearms magazines and a gas mask to smuggle overseas along with the firearms and discussed smuggling parts for the creation and manufacture of pipe bombs. Additionally, Baynes solicited the witness to murder a specific subject known to Baynes.

Baynes and Betts are being held in custody pending detention and preliminary hearings.

A complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, each defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum, and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cleveland Division, and its Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the Akron Police Department, ATF, CBP, Cleveland Division of Police, CMHA, Cuyahoga County School District, Cuyahoga County Community College Police Department, ERO, HSI, Parma Police Department, RTA, SSA, USCIS, USDA, and USSS.