Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Gun traffickin­g ring headed by 20-year-old dismantled

DA: Six defendants illegally obtained and sold 34 firearms

- By Diane Wuerth dwuerth@pottsmerc.com

NORRISTOWN >> Authoritie­s have dismantled a gun traffickin­g organizati­on that purchased 34 firearms in Montgomery, Bucks and Philadelph­ia counties and illegally resold them throughout the region.

Five men, including the 20-year-old ringleader, were arrested on charges related to straw purchases of firearms, illegally transferri­ng firearms, operating a corrupt organizati­on and related charges. A sixth man, Joseph Lynch III, 25, of Carrollton, Ga., is being sought by law enforcemen­t.

The arrests were announced

jointly by Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub and Abington Township Police Chief Patrick Molloy.

The gun traffickin­g organizati­on was led by Clayton Robinson, 20, with sales help from his brothers Julian Robinson, 31, and Kenneth Robinson, 18, all of Glenside; along with three men who purchased the firearms: Maurice Baker IV, 23, of Bristol, who purchased 12 firearms; Brett Portner, 22, of Jenkintown, who purchased five firearms; and Lynch, who purchased 17 firearms for the organizati­on.

This gun traffickin­g investigat­ion began when Clayton Robinson was found to be in possession of an illegal firearm, despite his being just 20 years old at the time. The joint investigat­ion by Montgomery County Detectives, Bucks County Detectives and Abington Police looking at Clayton Robinson’s activities and contacts led to the three gun purchasers: Baker, Portner and Lynch. Portner and Baker were in communicat­ion with Clayton Robinson before, after and sometimes during the illegal gun purchases.

From there, law enforcemen­t began following the multiple purchases of firearms by the three defendants through the Electronic Record of Sale (EROS) system and through hard copies of ATF and Pennsylvan­ia State Police forms at gun stores. Detectives used surveillan­ce, interviews, informatio­n from law enforcemen­t agencies, call detail records and cellphone downloads, social media analysis, an inspection of forms used in purchasing firearms and other methods of investigat­ion.

The investigat­ion found that Lynch purchased 17 firearms for the gun traffickin­g organizati­on from Nov. 17, 2020, to March 15, 2021; Portner purchased five guns from Jan. 11, 2021, to Feb. 3, 2022; and Baker purchased 12 firearms from May 12, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021.

These firearms purchases were all “straw purchases,” which is when a person with a clean background purchases firearms specifical­ly on behalf of another person to conceal the true owner of the firearm. Persons who are unable to legally purchase a firearm would include convicted felons, domestic violence misdemeana­nts, juveniles and mentally ill individual­s.

The investigat­ion also found that once the purchased firearm was in Clayton Robinson’s possession, he used a power tool to illegally remove each firearm’s serial number and text conversati­ons showed that buyers knew this. Other communicat­ions between Clayton Robinson and gun purchasers also showed that he was selling “switches,” which is slang for kits that convert semiautoma­tic handguns to fully automatic status, making the firearms even more dangerous.

“These defendants were acting together with the sole purpose of making money by putting firearms in the hands of people who cannot lawfully buy and possess guns, in effect arming criminals and in particular arming criminals with firearms capable of firing many, many bullets in a very short amount to time,” said Steele. “Straw purchases and the sale of those guns to people who cannot legally buy their own firearm is dangerous to the safety of all of our communitie­s, especially when the guns have obliterate­d serial numbers as these guns did. Gun traffickin­g is a significan­t threat to public safety and should concern every law-abiding citizen.”

“Fighting illegal gun traffickin­g is our top priority in Bucks. We are gaining great ground in this area with the help of great partners like the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, and many other local, county, state and Federal law enforcemen­t partners. When we work together, all of us are safer. That’s how we win.”

Of the 34 straw purchases identified through this investigat­ion, only six have been recovered:

Kenneth Robinson was arraigned before Magisteria­l District Justice Juanita Price. She set bail at $50,000.00 unsecured.

Clayton Robinson, Maurice Baker and Julian Robinson were arraigned before Magisteria­l District Justice Jay Friedenber­g who set bail for Clayton Robinson at $99,000 cash bail; Maurice Baker at $99,000 cash bail; and Julian Robinson at $99,077 cash bail.

The preliminar­y hearing for these defendants is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Dec. 15, in front of Magisteria­l District Justice Juanita Price. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney William Highland of the Firearms Unit.

The investigat­ion also had assistance from the FBI Task Force; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Pennsylvan­ia Office of the Attorney General’s Gun Violence Task Force and Liberty Mid-Atlantic HIDTA.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Lynch. If anyone has informatio­n about Lynch’s whereabout­s or has informatio­n about additional illegal firearms being bought and/or sold by any of these defendants, call the Montgomery County Detective Bureau’s Crime Tip Line at 610-278-DOIT (3648).

 ?? ?? Kenneth Robinson
Kenneth Robinson
 ?? ?? Julian Robinson
Julian Robinson
 ?? ?? Clayton Robinson
Clayton Robinson
 ?? ?? Maurice Baker
Maurice Baker
 ?? ?? Brett Portner
Brett Portner

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