A firearms trafficker was sentenced to 17 years in prison after authorities tracked him down following an armed robbery, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Jesse Bell, 26, pleaded guilty in July to brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, interference with commerce by robbery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The woman who acted as Bell's getaway driver, Cierra Washington, 27, pleaded guilty in September to interference with commerce by robbery. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Washington was sentenced to five years in federal prison this week.
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In plea papers, Bell, a convicted felon, admitted that he and a co-conspirator robbed a Valero gas station in Mesquite at gunpoint in June.
A store clerk, who was hit in the head with a gun during the robbery, slipped a tracking device into the cash he gave to Bell. Law enforcement used the device to locate the car in which Bell and Washington fled.
A high speed chase ensued, ending when the vehicle slammed into a curb. Inside the vehicle, officers found the cash and tracker from the robbery, two firearms, and an identification card belonging to Bell.
Police apprehended Washington, who was pregnant at the time, immediately after she jumped out of the driver's seat. They apprehended Bell weeks later.
At Bell's sentencing hearing, the prosecutor revealed that Bell sold an undercover agent several firearms over the course of a few months.
"This case clearly demonstrates violent offenders shouldn't be allowed to carry firearms - much less sell them," U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox said. "The Northern District of Texas, working hand-in-hand with ATF, is committed to prosecuting gun crimes under Project Guardian, the Attorney General's gun violence reduction initiative."
The case was brought under Project Guardian, the Justice Department's initiative to reduce gun violence using federal firearm laws. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives conducted the investigation with assistance from the Mesquite Police Department.
"ATF has made firearms trafficking and keeping illegal firearms out of the hands of violent offenders its top priority in the Dallas metroplex. This demonstrates the level of violence that several individuals can cause within our communities. Dallas is safer with them behind bars," ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II said.