Drug Dealers Who Attempted to Trade Machine Gun and
DEC 21 --ATLANTA, GA - MARK ANTHONY BECKFORD, 43, and RANDY VANA HAILE, JR., 29, both of Atlanta, Georgia, were sentenced today by United States District Court Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr. on federal drug and firearms charges for attempting to provide who they thought were Mexican cartel traffickers with assault weapons, including a machine gun, in exchange for kilograms of cocaine and marijuana.
Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Atlanta Field Division said, “Drug dealing breeds violence because dangerous criminals take extreme measures to protect their ill-gotten gains, as was the case in this investigation. DEA and the entire law enforcement community are committed to making our society safer by removing such criminals from the streets. This verdict and ensuing sentence was possible because of the concerted investigative efforts of our federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts.”
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of today’s sentence, “These defendants tried to give assault rifles and a machine gun to purported Mexican drug cartel members in exchange for kilograms of cocaine and marijuana. They are a danger to this community and are deserving of their lengthy sentences. We are aggressively pursuing both the high-level suppliers of drugs in Atlanta as well as those who supply them with deadly weapons.”
“These men arrived armed to the teeth to conduct a major drug deal on the streets of metro Atlanta,” said Special Agent in Charge Gregory Gant of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “What's more, they callously supplied guns to an undercover ATF agent, who led them to believe that the firearms would be delivered to members of a Mexican drug cartel. The potential for violence was clear. Today's sentence demonstrates the success that can be accomplished when agencies join together to address armed drug violators in our midst.”
BECKFORD was sentenced to 36 years, 6 months in federal prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.
HAILE was sentenced to 39 years in federal prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.
On September 14, 2010, a federal jury convicted the two defendants after a week-long trial. They were convicted of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana and attempting to do the same; possession of a firearm, including a machine gun, in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number; and possession of an unregistered machine gun. HAILE was also convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the indictment, evidence at trial, and other information presented in court: In April 2009, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) working for Atlanta’s High Intensity Drug Task Force Area (“HIDTA”), and agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), initiated an investigation of the defendants using a confidential informant. On April 15, 2009, BECKFORD traveled to San Antonio and met with the confidential informant and an undercover DEA agent posing as a source of supply for large quantities of cocaine and marijuana. The undercover DEA agent and BECKFORD negotiated for the purchase of marijuana and cocaine that the agent said he would deliver to Atlanta.
On April 22, 2009, in Atlanta, an undercover ATF agent met with BECKFORD, who was accompanied by HAILE, to further discuss the drug transaction. It was agreed at this meeting that BECKFORD and HAILE would provide an up-front payment of $25,000 in cash for transportation of the drugs to Atlanta. The following day BECKFORD and HAILE traveled to San Antonio, met with the San Antonio undercover agent, and delivered to him $25,000, which had been concealed in a secret compartment in their luggage. BECKFORD and HAILE agreed that they would initially take delivery of approximately three kilograms of cocaine and 500 pounds of marijuana, with more to follow if the drugs were of good quality. BECKFORD and HAILE agreed to pay for the drugs with a combination of money and firearms, including a machine gun and “AK”-style assault rifles.
On May 5, 2009, the day of the scheduled delivery, the undercover DEA agent and the undercover ATF agent met with BECKFORD and HAILE at a hotel parking lot in Smyrna, Georgia. In the parking lot, the undercover agents showed the defendants approximately 1,000 pounds of marijuana and 5 kilograms of cocaine contained in a U-Haul trailer. After inquiring about the cost of the entire load, BECKFORD and HAILE told the undercover agents that they could provide approximately $70,000 and numerous firearms to pay or trade for the marijuana and cocaine. The undercover DEA agent advised the defendants that they had 2 hours to return to the parking lot to conduct the transaction.
Later that day, DEA, ATF, and HIDTA agents and officers arrested BECKFORD and HAILE, who were driving a black Chevy Avalanche near the hotel parking lot. During a search of the Avalanche, agents discovered the following items: $70,000 in cash, a loaded .40-caliber Taurus handgun, two Norinco 7.62-caliber SK assault rifles, and a 9-millimeter, fully automatic M-11 machine gun, among other things. A search of the defendants revealed a Glock .45-caliber pistol in HAILE'S waistband.
After the arrest, agents and officers executed a search warrant at Jamaica Flava, a restaurant associated with the defendants. The search revealed two loaded 7.62-caliber assault rifles, a 12-gauge shotgun, a loaded .25-caliber handgun, and three plastic bags containing marijuana, among other evidence of drug trafficking.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the High Intensity Drug Task Force Area.
Assistant United States Attorneys Rodney D. Bullard and Bret R. Williams prosecuted the case. DEA Atlanta’s SAC Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.