TRENTON – ATrenton man pleaded guilty to leading a network that trafficked guns to Trenton from the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced Monday. The defendant was linked to guns recovered in connection with several homicide investigations and a narcotics investigation.
Trayle Beasley, 30, of Trenton, pleaded guilty to a first-degree charge of leading of a firearms trafficking network before Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. in Mercer County on Monday. In pleading guilty, Beasley admitted that he trafficked approximately 50 guns to Trenton from Virginia, including at least one AK-47 assault weapon. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 12 to 14 years in prison. The charge was contained in a May 21, 2010 indictment that also charged a second New Jersey man and three Virginia men.
Beasley is scheduled to be sentenced on May 31 by Superior Court Judge Mitchel E. Ostrer. Deputy Attorney General Russell Curley prosecuted the case and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice.
The New Jersey State Police – ATF Joint Firearms Task Force and Division of Criminal Justice led the investigation. The task force led by the State Police and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives also includes the Trenton Police, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Those agencies worked with the Hamilton Police (Mercer County), East Windsor Police and Eastern Shore (Va.) Drug Task Force, including the Virginia State Police and Northampton and Accomack County Sheriff’s Departments.
The weapons linked to Beasley included the gun used in the gang-related drive-by shooting on June 7, 2009 that killed 13-year-old Tamrah Leonard during a block party in Trenton, and the gun used in the murder of Tracey Crews, 23, inside his home in Trenton on Sept. 12, 2008.
“This is a textbook example of how our partnership with the New Jersey State Police and ATF can eliminate a conduit by which guns are entering New Jersey and going directly into the hands of violent criminals,” said Dow. “Multiple guns linked to violent crimes were put into the eTrace system and traced to Beasley, who now faces a lengthy prison sentence.”
“Seventy-five percent of the crime guns in New Jersey come from out of state, and Virginia is the second biggest source state,” said Taylor. “Trayle Beasley is precisely the type of defendant we are seeking to take off the street through our efforts to fight illicit gun trafficking.”
“This investigation and prosecution is another endorsement of a statewide strategy that targets gun violence from two directions, focusing upon both the felons who use the guns in their hands and also upon the criminal profiteers who illegally put those guns in their hands,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
“This plea is a clear investigative success for all agencies involved and a win-win for our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew W. Horace of ATF’s Newark Field Division. “It represents one less criminal firearms trafficker, dozens less illegal firearms on our streets terrorizing our communities and a clear message that if you illegally traffic arms into New Jersey, we will investigate you, prosecute you and you will receive a lengthy and appropriate prison sentence.”
Beasley also pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful possession of a handgun, which was filed by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office in connection with an armed robbery in East Windsor in March 2009. He faces a sentence of five years in prison, with three years of parole ineligibility, to be served concurrently with the sentence for the leader charge.
In pleading guilty to the leader charge, Beasley admitted that he solicited individuals in the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where he had lived, to provide him with guns, which he brought to New Jersey to sell illegally.
The case stems from NJ Trace, a first-in-the-nation partnership of the Attorney General’s Office, State Police and ATF to trace crime guns recovered in New Jersey using ATF’s national eTrace system. The Attorney General requires that information on all guns seized by police in New Jersey be entered into eTrace for tracking within 24 hours. In a separate case resulting from the program, Williams James Ivery, 30, was sentenced on April 20 to three years of probation and 364 days in jail for unlawfully disposing of two handguns in New Jersey that he bought in Texas while stationed there in the Army, and mailing a third gun to two men in New Jersey. Deputy Attorney General Cassandra Serentino prosecuted that case.
In the Beasley case, two other men named in the May 21, 2010 indictment have pleaded guilty. Bobby Lee Henderson, 24, of Townsend, Va., and Larry Nottingham, 28, of Eastville, Va., pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon and are scheduled to be sentenced on May 3. They face sentences of probation, in addition to the jail time they have served since their arrests last year. Charges are still pending against two other suspects in the investigation.
The investigation revealed that Beasley sold guns to drug dealers and gang members in Trenton. He preferred to deal in revolvers because they do not leave shell casings at crime scenes. He was indicted in connection with 12 guns, including eight handguns, two shotguns and two rifles. Five of the guns were seized by the Maryland State Police on Nov. 16, 2008, when they stopped Beasley’s car as he drove through Maryland. Beasley served a one-year prison sentence in Maryland for unlawful possession of those guns. The other seven guns were recovered by police in New Jersey in connection with crimes and traced through the NJ Trace program.
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