Rocky Mount Woman, Vernisha Suggs Sentenced for Drug and Firearms Offenses Concerning Buying Guns for Gang Members
A Rocky Mount woman was sentenced yesterday to 71 months in prison for conspiring to distribute heroin and fentanyl and conspiring to make false statements during the purchase of firearms. On February 10, 2022, Vernisha Suggs pled guilty to the charges.
“We are not just prosecuting those who pull the trigger,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “We are also targeting those who supply the crime guns fueling violence in our communities. I applaud the ATF, Rocky Mount Police Department and Nash County Sheriff’s Office for their work on our Violent Crime Action Plan (VCAP) to keep Rocky Mount a safe place to work and raise a family.”
According to court documents and other information presented in court, Suggs, 35, engaged in a conspiracy from 2018 through 2020 to purchase numerous firearms on behalf of Bloods gang members from federally licensed firearms dealers in Rocky Mount. Though Suggs completed paperwork during each purchase attesting that she was purchasing the firearms for her own use, she would then transfer possession of the firearms to local Bloods gang members.
One of these handguns was recovered after being used in a gang-related shootout at 1041 Long Avenue in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on July 28, 2019. Several other firearms that Suggs purchased were recovered from Bloods gang members during traffic stops or search warrants conducted during investigations into other shootings and drug trafficking activity.
Suggs also assisted Bloods gang members in their effort to distribute fentanyl and heroin throughout Nash and Edgecombe Counties. Suggs’ Rocky Mount residence was used as a meeting spot for out of state drug suppliers to bring deliveries of fentanyl/heroin mixtures. She also provided a rental vehicle that was used in an attempt to transport a mixture of fentanyl and heroin from New York back to the Rocky Mount area.
“Anyone that knowingly puts firearms into the hands of dangerous, prohibited individuals is jeopardizing the entire community,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims. “The consequences can be severe for those involved in illegal firearms purchases.”
“The men and women of the Rocky Mount Police Department will continue investigating violent firearms-related crimes. We are committed to identifying the trigger pullers and those purchasing firearms for individuals committing these violent acts. We will continue reducing violent crime as we target those contributing to these heinous acts of violence, both directly and indirectly,” said Rocky Mount Police Chief Robert Hassell.
“This is another example of local and federal partnerships,” stated Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone. “This case proves again that spreading poison in our community and possessing firearms to help facilitate criminal activity will not be tolerated and the consequences are significant.”
VCAP is a three-pronged approach drawing on close partnerships among federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as the community, to combat violence.
Focused and strategic enforcement bringing state and federal prosecutors together to prioritize the review of gun crime cases and identify and prosecute the most significantly violent repeat offenders and criminal organizations as well as identifying and stopping the sources of guns.
Inter-Agency coordination and intelligence-led policing to analyze crime data to deploy resources where they are most needed and leveraging federal Task Force officers to bring federal technology to address local gun violence.
Community engagement including youth education, offender re-entry programs and sustained dialogue with the communities most affected by the violence.
Michael F. Easley, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Rocky Mount Police Department, and the Nash County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Webb prosecuted the case.