North Carolina man sentenced to more than five years in prison for firearm charges

Published 9:21 am Saturday, March 19, 2022

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Elias Johnson, 21, of Jacksonville, was sentenced Thursday, March 17, 2022 to 62 months in prison for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possessing a firearm as a felon, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina. Johnson pleaded guilty to the charges on September 14, 2021.

According to court records and statements made during hearings, the Jacksonville Police Department, using a confidential informant (CI), conducted three controlled buys of crack cocaine from Johnson in Jacksonville in June and July of 2019.

“The third controlled buy took place on July 5, 2019, at an apartment complex on Wilmington Highway,” stated the release. “When the CI arrived at the apartment, Johnson greeted the CI and led them into the living room. There, the CI saw a second man sitting on the couch, weighing crack cocaine on a digital scale with a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol sitting on the couch beside him. The CI asked to look at the pistol and then offered to buy it. Johnson responded with a price, and the CI continued to negotiate with both Johnson and the third man, eventually agreeing to pay $300 for the handgun.

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“As they negotiated, Johnson stated that he sometimes has ‘problems out here’ and needed a commitment that the CI would bring back the pistol if Johnson needed it,” the release continued. “The CI left with the firearm and turned it over to police. Later the same day, the CI returned to the apartment, and Johnson provided him crack cocaine in a plastic bag.”

According to the release, prior to his federal conviction, Johnson had been convicted of four felony drug distribution offenses under North Carolina law, as well as two misdemeanor charges related to unlawful possession of firearms.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Jacksonville Police Department conducted the investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake D. Pugh prosecuted.